Corell's Potato Chip factory in Loudonville

Bessie Rambacher and Irene Butler sacking chips, Corell's Potato Chip plant 1958.

Around 1937, Wilbur Corell and his parents opened Corell's Potato Chips in Strasburg, Ohio. The business did well, but Wilbur went off to World War II, and when he returned he settled in Mansfield while his parents and brother continued the family operation.

After a few years, Wilbur decided to strike out on his own and open another potato chip company. He began looking for a new home for his family and business, deciding on Loudonville. He partnered with Leroy Ramsey to operate out of the old dry cleaning plant behind Don Kick's house around 1948.

Although initially planned to be labeled "Kitchen Kooked Potato Chips," Ramsey left the operation and Wilbur kept it simple with the family name: Corell's Potato Chips.

In a short period of time, the family moved to Riverside Drive and built a larger plant, processing 1,200 pounds of potatoes every other day. Starting around 2 a.m., the potatoes were first peeled, sliced into 1/32 of an inch, and soaked in water until most of the starch leached out. From there they were fried in 260 pounds of pure vegetable shortening before going into an "extractor" that flung the excess shortening off.

Next up was the salting board, where additional flavors could be added: the classic flavor consisted of only salt, but the family also offered BBQ. Marcelled (wavy) and no salt were also available by custom order.

Once salted, the chips went up a small conveyor ramp and down into the sack, where they were weighed and then stapled together. Of the original 1,200 pounds of potatoes and 260 pounds of shortening, the end result was approximately 400 pounds of fresh chips.

Eventually, the family expanded again, this time behind Spring Street, where children Larry and Paulette pitched in. The family delivered to a three-county area until 1971, when Wilbur and Ruth decided to retire, hoping to sell the business to another ambitious entrepreneur.

Retirement didn't last long though, and a few months later they cranked the fryers back up and Corell's reopened as a cash and carry, no longer offering wholesale delivery. The new format was easier to manage, and business was better than ever. Wilbur and Ruth finally retired for good in 1978, closing the factory and marking the end of Corell's.

The original Corell's line, opened in 1937 by Wilbur and his parents, is still in business, although the similarities begin and end with the name. The brand is no longer owned by the family, nor uses the original recipe.

When still operated by his parents and brother, the Strasburg Corell's used the same recipe as Loudonville Corell's, but Wilbur extracted the shortening from his finished product, whereas his brother did not, something family members claimed contributed to a stark difference in quality.

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