Monday, March 12, 2012

Arvay Potato Chips

1947 Phone Book Listing
Last week one of the comments on the blog asked if I had any information about Arvay Potato Chips. The comment mentioned that the company was started by the Arvay family in their garage somewhere in Lorain.

That was the first I had heard of Arvay Potato Chips. Intrigued, I tried to find out a little about the company and product online, as well as in the Lorain Public Library.

Alyssa Morales, a Lorain International Festival Hungarian princess in 2011, mentioned her family's connection with the company in an online interview on the Chronicle Telegram website. "My great-great grandmother on my grandmother's side was also born in Hungary and her brother Frank owned and operated Arvay's Potato Chip Company on Vine Street in South Lorain," she stated.

At the library, the earliest listing I could find for the company was in the 1935 city directory. Arvay Potato Chips was listed at 1533 E. 30th Street, with Frank J. Arvay Jr. as the name associated with the company. Apparently the company was located in a home, as its address matched that of Frank and Veronica Arvay. The senior Arvay was listed as a grocer.

The potato chip company remained at that address into the 1940's. At some point in that decade, its address changed to 1553 E. 29th Street.

1962 Phone Book Listing
Frank Arvay did a good job of keeping his company's name in front of the public. For decades he bought a boxed ad in the company listings in the back of the phone book. He also sponsored many sports teams over the years.

Sometime around 1969, Frank Arvay retired and the company disappeared from the pages of the city directory as well as the phone book.

At the tine of Arvay's death at age 67 in September 1971, Russ Davies, a columnist in the Chronicle-Telegram made a nice mention of him in his column.

"At one time there were three "Mr. Chips" in Lorain County. The dean of the trio was Frank J. Arvay of Lorain who owned and operated the Arvay Potato Chip Company. The others were Bill Thomasson of Elyria, owner of Thomasson's Potato Chips who since has turned the business to this son, Bill, and Pete DeSantis of Lorain, long associated in the chip and pretzel business.

"Best known of the three in the earlier days was Mr. Arvay, 67, who died in Lorain St. Joseph Hospital on Sept. 10 and had only been ill one day. He was the victim of a heart attack.

"The rotund, jovial and downright funny Mr. Arvay had the reputation among tavern owners, bartenders and barmaids in Lorain County for being the most "drinks for the bar" gent in the area."

That's a pretty nice way to be remembered, if you ask me. And I'm sure many people in Lorain remember Frank Arvay's potato chips as well.

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