I just received a letter from Shirley Gillespie complimenting my Lincoln Highway: Pennsylvania Traveler’s Guide book but noting that I missed the story of a potato chip factory along the route operated by her family. My text mentions a Frito-Lay plant west of York, PA, off Gillespie Drive, but little did I know that the road name was a key to the plant’s heritage. The El-Ge Potato Chip Company was founded in 1937 by Leonard Gillespie, named for his initials. A story in the January 1982 Snack Food trade journal reported that the 105,000-sq-ft factory, built in 1965, could produce 4 tons of chips per hour. By then, Shirley’s husband Bob, a nephew of the founder, was president. Here’s a picture from the Snack Food profile showing Bob and Shirley at the El-Ge plant:
Shirley says the family sold to Southland Corporation in 1984, which kept the name, then a succession of owners led to Frito-Lay’s purchase. I’m glad Shirley wrote and preserved an important part of her life and Lincoln Highway history.