How The Pennsylvania Dutch Turned A Rural Town Into A Snack Food Empire

In a food landscape dominated by multinational conglomerates like Frito-Lay and PepsiCo, the small town of Hanover, Pa., has produced homegrown snacks for a century and is still thriving today.
A woman shopping in the 1970s picks up a bag of Snyder's pretzels. Today, Hanover remains a center of snack food manufacturing, even as the food industry changes around it. Source: Courtesy of Snyder's of Hanover

Tucked close to the border of Pennsylvania and Maryland, the borough of Hanover, Pa., population 16,000, is a long way from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

A farming center with an industrial core, prior to the turn of the 20th century this rural town was best known as the site of the last skirmish before the Union and Confederate armies clashed at the Battle of Gettysburg in the summer of 1863. But thanks to a provident combination of heritage and modernization, York County, where Hanover is located, has exchanged its Civil War identity for a more savory image: "Snack Food Capital of the World."

Over the past century, no fewer than four snack food companies have been established in Hanover, including , which has achieved a, which in 2016 was the country's , bringing in more than $216 million annually. Despite the of Snyder's by in March 2018, these companies, along with two others, and , call Hanover home. Several other snack food purveyors, including York Pretzel Company, Martin's Potato Chips, Good's Potato Chips, Tom Sturgis Pretzels and H.K. Anderson are located elsewhere in York County and in the neighboring county of Lancaster.

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