August 30, 2014

Elyria
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Thomasson’s chip lovers bite back

MANSFIELD – Bob Jones knew his company’s decision to drop the long-popular Thomasson’s brand of potato chips wasn’t going to go down easy among longtime fans.

Jones has found himself responding this week to a flurry of emails and Facebook messages from area people upset with his Mansfield-based Jones Potato Chip Co.’s recent announcement to discontinue the Thomasson brand of chips, which has its roots in Elyria.

“I wasn’t surprised” by the outpouring of support for the popular potato chip brand, which Jones acquired in 1996. “If no one cared about a product, they wouldn’t say anything and it wouldn’t matter. Being a family business, we understand the dynamics of losing a local longtime brand. I knew people wouldn’t be happy, and I was not looking forward to having to deal with it. I appreciate the passion people have about this. I got a few nasty ones, but I’m trying to answer back.”

Jones assured many who emailed him in protest that they can still buy the Thomasson brand through the summer and into the fall months.

“We’ll keep them on shelves as long as the packaging material lasts,” he said.

As he did a few weeks ago when making the announcement to discontinue the brand, Jones reiterated that the decision was strictly business.

“During the same period of time we could produce less than a half, and sometimes only a third as much Thomassons as our other products,” Jones said. “We’ve been losing money on the brand for over 15 years. We put a lot of money toward them.”

Jones declined to say how much money was spent to keep the brand going. In an effort to illustrate his point, Jones said his firm produced 12,000 pounds of its popular potato sticks in 6½ hours on Monday.

“A typical Thomasson production run of 4,000 pounds takes eight hours with the same people and equipment,” he said.

Due to differences in the method of production, and different style of potato used, the company couldn’t combine any of its other products with the Thomasson chips to create a more efficient operation.

“People can find a lot of reasons why we screwed up,” Jones said. “We spent 15 years trying to solve this and it just didn’t get solved.”

Typical of the Facebook messages posted Thursday was this from Sonya M. Thomas, who said “I love Thomasson Bar-B-Que Chips….I now live in Las Vegas and was home the past week. The first thing I did was tell my son, ‘Let’s go to the store so I can get a bag of Thomasson’s!’ ”

Zach Welton wrote, “I’m from Ohio but live in Florida now. I still think Thomasson Chips are by far the best chips I have had. I miss them daily.”

“Can you ship to WV?” asked JoAnn Hullman Porter. “I miss my BBQ and sour cream.”

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.