These popular potato chips are expanding from Rockford to Peoria. Here's where to find them

Mrs. Fisher's potato chips are made in Rockford.
Mrs. Fisher's potato chips are made in Rockford.

Mrs. Fisher's potato chips are cracking the Peoria market.

The 90-year-old snack-food brand that has a cult-level following around its home base of Rockford is to become available this week in the immediate Peoria area.

Schnucks supermarkets in Peoria and Pekin are to be the first local locations to stock the chips, according to Chris Spiess, the vice president for Mrs. Fisher's Inc.

Availability is to expand to other retailers in Marshall, Peoria, Stark, Tazewell and Woodford counties. That's the service area for Brewers Distributing, the Peoria-based beverage wholesaler in charge of dispensing Mrs. Fisher's products locally.

The Peoria move comes almost a year after Mrs. Fisher's began to market in west-central Illinois, including the Canton and Galesburg areas.

"We're not necessarily going in blind, but it's nice to watch us flourish naturally, simply by word of mouth and leaving a bag of chips on the counter for a manager to sample," Spiess said about the Peoria expansion.

"Nine times out of 10, they're (happy) to have something new and an Illinois-based product."

More: Will Peoria find a new favorite potato chip as Rockford-based Mrs. Fisher's expands?

Galesburg-area expansion came in 2021

Headquartered on Rockford's north side, Mrs. Fisher's typically hadn't distributed south of Interstate 80. Its 2021 partnership with Galesburg-based G&M Distributors Inc. has been a success, according to Spiess.

"We were expecting to just kind of walk in there with the assumption there would be some places that like the chips and some places that didn't," he said. "Every account we have, the customers love the product."

Mrs. Fisher's sells various flavors of chips, as well as popcorn and dip seasoning.

Following the Galesburg-area introduction, Spiess said he received about 100 telephone calls and messages from people who wondered if Mrs. Fisher's chips might become available in Peoria. Spiess pleaded for patience.

Potato chips roll off a conveyor belt after being salted Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, on their way to packaging at Mrs. Fisher's in Rockford.
Potato chips roll off a conveyor belt after being salted Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, on their way to packaging at Mrs. Fisher's in Rockford.

Mrs. Fisher's has similar roots and flavor profiles as two other regional potato-chip brands that for years have been in the Peoria market.

Farmington long has been home of Kitchen Cooked chips, although a Pennsylvania-based snack-food corporation now owns that brand. Like Kitchen Cooked, Sterzing's Potato Chips of Burlington, Iowa, can be found in Peoria stores.

According to Spiess, the Mrs. Fisher's approach in Peoria will be no different than it was in west-central Illinois. Kitchen Cooked and Sterzing's also are distributed there.

"We're all trying to do the exact same thing, which is put food on our table for our families," Spiess said. "We're not trying to create any territorial disputes. We're simply offering our customers an opportunity for another local brand."

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One of few female-owned potato-chip companies

This brand has a history of female ownership. In 2007, longtime Mrs. Fisher's employee Roma Hailman and her husband, now deceased, purchased the company.

"There's a real push right now for minority and female-owned businesses," Spiess said. "We're one of the only chip companies to make that claim."

Of course, the Mrs. Fisher's namesake also was female. Ethel Fisher took over the company after she split from her husband, Eugene Fisher. They founded the business in 1932 in their Rockford home.

For most of the time since then, Mrs. Fisher's has been prevalent only in northern Illinois. But the company now distributes in about 35 counties and plans a statewide presence, according to Spiess.

"In the last 10 months, we have quadrupled our customer base," he said. "We're really exceeding what we were anticipating on doing in trying to become Illinois' chip.

"The potato-chip industry is a very competitive field. You're dealing with multibillion-dollar companies that can wipe you off the face of the map. But it's the customers that speak loudest."

Nick in the Morning
Nick in the Morning

This article originally appeared on Journal Star: Mrs. Fisher's potato chips company coming to Peoria from Rockford