York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

York County, Pa. made big, heavy things – and was immensely proud of it, Part II

When this Evening Sun in Hanover, Pa., photo was produced in 2008, about 16,000 pounds of potato chips per hour rolled off the lines at Utz Quality Foods’ High Street plant in Hanover. Earlier this year, a deal in which Snyder’s of Hanover would acquire cross-town snack food producer Utz Quality Foods fell through. Also of interest: Chipmaking of the potato kind has deep roots in York County and Who makes the best potato chips in York County, Martin’s or Utz? Or someone else? and York Barbell’s tall, heavyweight lifter has long helped put York County on the map.

I’ve written previously that York County manufacturers have historically made BIG, HEAVY THINGS.
York Barbell, of course, is Exhibit A, almost by definition.
Some lines of the old Pfaltzgraff pottery were known as stoneware and plates are rock-like in weight – wonderful rocks, I might add.
York Safe & Lock made vaults and other such equipment whose bulk kept their contents safe… .

Snyder’s of Hanover, on Hanover’s east side, was to acquire west side chipmaker Utz, before the plan fell through.
Bradley Lifting made large blocks that could hold even larger hooks.
Caterpillar made big machines here, and of course, Harley made big, throaty bikes, not those whiny, little, pastel hummingbirds that dart through traffic.
But Harley-Davidson and other makers of BIG, HEAVY THINGS are struggling.
And news came last week that two snack food makers – yes, snack foods as in fragile potato chips – would merge to become perhaps York County’s largest manufacturer.
The proposed deal – Snyder’s of Hanover’s acquisition of Utz – would make for potential employment of more than 4,000.
The deal fell through, but imagine if it had worked. The merger would have made the company nearly the size of York Corporation and other area factories during the peak industrial years of World War II. York Corporation, by the way, made big refrigeration units for Victory ships and other military uses, and its successors chilled the likes of The Chunnel and the World Trade Center.
Big stuff.
Those snack food talks down in York County’s southwestern part serve as another signal that the U.S. economy is moving from heavy industry to a service economy.
And there’s a bit of what goes around, comes around here.
Agriculture fueled York County’s economy from its earliest years until the post-Civil War Industrial Revolution.
Now the snack food giants and food processors – fueled by grain and potatoes and good from the soil – are primed to address an economy in which consumers use, well, one crunchy chip at a time.