An end of an era: Gibble's snacks disappear from store shelves

March 09, 2013|By ROXANN MILLER |
  • Sandie Collins-Keener, Greencastle, Pa., said saying goodbye to the iconic brand was "so sad," as she reaches for one last bag off the shelves at Sunnyway Foods in Greencastle (Pa.) on Friday.
By Roxann Miller

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — When Sandie Collins-Keener walked into Sunnyway Foods in Greencastle, Pa., on Friday morning to grab a bag of her favorite Gibble’s chips, she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw nearly empty shelves.

“It’s so sad. I grew up with Gibble’s,” Collins-Keener of Greencastle said. “They were like a childhood mainstay.”

She was one of many fans of the iconic brand who poured into Sunnyway Foods early Friday morning hoping to savor one last bag of the locally made potato chips, pretzels or cheese curls.

“It’s just one thing. If you’re born in my generation, there’s one more thing gone from your childhood — another fond memory gone, Collins-Keener said.

On Thursday, Gibble Foods CEO and Owner Eldon Dieffenbach released a statement that Gibble Foods was discontinuing the manufacturing of Gibble’s snack products effective March 9 to allow the company to focus on private label manufacturing of its snack food products.

Most of the production of Gibble Foods was done at facilities off U.S. 11 south of Chambersburg.

Dean Martin, owner of Sunnyway Foods in Greencastle, said there was no notice given to anyone that the popular brand would vanish.

“It’s been around forever — since I was a kid. It’s sad anytime a local business goes by the wayside. But the way it happened, I guess, is the biggest shock,” Martin said.

Martin found out the news when his route driver told him that he was out of a job.

Gibble’s chips were popular locally, Martin said.

“Everybody in this area is familiar with the Gibble’s name,” he said.

“Obviously the word got out to people, because they came in (Friday morning) and bought out the Gibble’s chips,” he said.

Within about an hour, between 60 and 100 bags of the homegrown favorite was snatched off the shelves at Sunnyway.

Donna Miller of Greencastle likes the regular Gibble’s chips, but settled for a bag of the remaining Krinkle Kut Barbecue chips left on the shelves.

“I used to live right beside Gibble’s, and you could smell them every night. It makes you crave them,” Miller said.

She heard the news on Thursday and headed out to try to find them before they disappeared.

“I’m hoping some other company will take them over. I don’t know if Martin’s will, but they will certainly be missed,” she said.

For 20 years, Rob McCleary lived half a mile from Gibble’s production plant off U.S. 11 south of Chambersburg.

“Man, I can’t believe this,” McCleary of Greencastle said about the end of a local mainstay.

“When you’d walk out the door, you’d smell those chips,” he said pulling one of the last remaining bags of Kay and Ray chips off the shelf.

This is a sad day for the area, he said.

Several calls to Dieffenbach by The Herald-Mail were not returned Friday.

A member of Gibble Foods management team commented on the status of the company.

He declined to give his name because he said he did not want to misrepresent the company.

He said the plant off U.S. 11 currently is not running, but it is hoped that it will be operating again in four to six weeks.

Most of the company’s 30 employees were laid off Thursday, he said.

“The situation was he (Dieffenbach) was losing too much money and had to regroup and re-strategize and try a different approach,” he said.

“I think we’d all love to see production get back up to a point because of this new approach (private label manufacturing), but at this point this is where we’ve got to start to stop the bleeding,” he said.

On Dec. 1, Dieffenbach purchased the snack food division of Gibble’s from Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe. Martin’s purchased the company in 1994 from the original owner, the Gibble family, which founded it in 1959.

Scott Heintzelman, vice president of finance and administration for Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe Inc. in Chambersburg, said officials at Martin’s were shocked by the news.

“The president of our company is married to the daughter of the founder of Gibble’s and consequently, Gibble's means more to us than simply a snack company. The news we learned ... saddens us and the entire Martin family. This is not something we expected, intended, or wanted. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that lost their job today and/or will lose the ability to distribute this popular brand,” Heintzelman said in a statement Thursday.

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