Michigan is Number One when it comes to potato chips. In the first half of the 20th Century, there were over twenty-five different brands of Michigan potato chips...makes sense, since Michigan is the country's leading grower and producer of taters.

As for Michigan's vast brands of potato chips, the most popular ones over the years have been Better Made, Krun-Chee, Made Rite, New Era, Paramount, Uncle Ray's, and Vita-Boy. Some of those have passed by the wayside as did many others (Uncle Ray's and Better Made are still around), but those are the ones most people remember.

The one with the most unique packaging and advertising was the New Era brand. With advertising phrases like “scientifically processed”, “truly digestible”, and “healthful food on the alkaline side”, New Era was being touted as a chip that was good for you, and you could therefore “feast without fear”.

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So what's so healthy about alkaline? New Era claimed it's because “science says so” and consumers fell for it. The chips contained hydrogenated vegetable shortening – and since the masses didn't know that 'hydrogenated' meant it contained trans fats, chips were bought and eaten by the truckload. Yeah, I bought 'em too...and I'd buy 'em again. They were good!

So who was the lady depicted on the New Era packaging and why was she there?

New Era Potato Chips hit the market in 1951 by the Nicolay Dancy Company, pushing the fact these were the healthiest potato chips you could buy.....and that claim was pushed even further by showing the silhouette of a slim, unknown lady on the package surrounded by smaller silhouettes of supposedly other healthy people golfing, swimming, fishing, sledding, skiing, horseback riding, and playing tennis. So not only did they give you energy for sports, but kept you slim & healthy as well...at least that's what they led us to believe.
(“Hey! Let's eat a tub of tater chips and play some sports! Yayyy!”)

It was a time when America trusted advertising and most of the time it worked.

By 1965, the company was controlled by Frito-Lay, who began easing out the “New Era” chips and pushing the “Lay's” chips. Soon, that was it for the name, the chip, and the silhouette lady.

The factory where New Era Potato Chips were made was located at the corner of 5801 Grandy Street and Hendrie Street.....it has been since torn down. Advertising tricks aside, New Era Potato Chips really were good and tasty. I would buy them again in a heartbeat if they were made available.

New Era Potato Chip Memorabilia and Old Factory


Michigan Potato Chips

Vintage Cereals of The Battle Creek Food Company

Michigan's General Foods Memorabilia & Products

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