Our Story – A Timeline
The Wilson family honed their craft of making and selling funnel cakes, the traditional Dutch pastry, at fairs and other events. In 1974 they opened Pennsylvania Dutch Treats at the Paramus Park Mall in Paramus, New Jersey to sell their now renowned funnel cakes.
Wanting to bring their products to a wider base of people, in 1976 they created a line of products for consumers to make funnel cakes at home. The name of the company was Funnel Cake Factory, the product line was called Mrs. Wilson’s and there were even two U.S. Patents issued.
The aforementioned Paramus Park Mall is also where Warren and Sara first met and talked of going into business together. Not only did they go into business together, they got married as well. At their wedding in 1981, friends and family remarked that it was as much a merger as a marriage as these two creative, hard working entrepreneurs exchanged vows.
The success of the Funnel Cake Factory’s products encouraged the Wilsons to create more consumer packaged goods. In the early 1980′s, they focused on snacks, including Crouton Crunch™ and a line of European style snacks. Their latest innovation was the bagel chip. Bagels became all the rage in the 80′s, so a bagel chip seemed like a natural extension of the popularity. They needed a catchy name and decided to pay homage to the city most famous for bagels, New York City and just like that, New York Style Bagel Chip Co. was born.
Sales of bagel chips took off almost immediately and their popularity grew steadily. Soon the product became available in stores across the country. The success of the product propelled New York Style Bagel Chip to #50 on the Inc. Magazine 500 List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies in 1990. At the same time, they invented New York Style Pita Chips.
From the New York Times to the Trentonian, the press was enamored with the classic American success story of the Wilsons and their products. Warren and Sara were the quintessential husband and wife entrepreneurial team: hard working, creative and confident in their products. During this time, in one of the many interviews, Warren stated that he and Sara “…work night and day. The upside is that we get twice as much done.” The quote and their work ethic are now ingrained in the lore of the company.
Although there had been other overtures regarding the acquisition of New York Style Bagel & Pita Chips, the most intriguing came from RJR Nabisco because the product would fit so well within the company’s portfolio. After all of the hard work and fun of building the brand, Warren and Sara were unsure if they wanted to sell.
In May of 1992, after careful consideration, Warren and Sara turned their company over to RJR Nabisco. It was bitter sweet. Reaping the rewards of the hard work was nice, but letting go of the company that they built from the ground up was difficult. The Wilsons still had the Funnel Cake Factory and focused their energy on that for the next few years, but in 1995, they decided to sell that to J&J Snack Foods in Pennsauken, New Jersey. In the end, when one story ends a new one begins.
Warren and Sara created a line of fat free snacks for the deli, but ultimately, the product line proved to be ahead of its time. This venture was put on hold while the Wilsons concentrated on another innovative concept.
The Wilsons created a unique line of collectable (and patented) coin bottle banks, which were filled with popcorn, pretzels, peanuts and jellybeans. They were also customized with popular sports team licenses, including the NFL, NHL, MLB, NASCAR and collegiate teams. Other popular licenses were guitar banks with Elvis Presley and football and basketball shaped banks. They were so popular people still call and ask for them today.
After the sale of New York Style Bagel and Pita Chips and Funnel Cake Factory, the Wilsons didn’t rest on their laurels, as th itch to get back into snack foods was too hard to resist. In 2004, armed with a U.S. Patent for a flat pretzel cracker, the Wilsons created a product called Pretzel Crisps® and voila, a new brand was born!
2006 – The Pretzel Crisps® Brand Takes Flight
Although Pretzel Crisps® attracted loyal followers from day one, what really helped the brand take off – in every sense – was the introduction of a special airline-size package that put the Wilsons’ latest snack innovation in sharp contrast with blandly familiar airline pretzels. Maybe flying high in 2006 helped Pretzel Crisps® secure its place as a new fixture in the snack food category.
2007 – Buffalo Soldier
Tinkering with new flavors, “Buffalo Wing” was an early front runner that stuck. Today, the spicy-tangy flavor made famous in the bars of Buffalo, New York is still flying off the shelves.
2008 – The Wilsons Indulge In Their Love Of Chocolate
With a proven track record of parlaying their own favorite foods into boldly original new snack innovations, the Wilsons decided to top themselves yet again by “enrobing” their crispy salty treats in all-natural dark chocolate. The result: the beginnings of a delectable new line of enrobed Pretzel Crisps®. Yum!
2009 – Oooh! White Chocolate Peppermint!
Armed with an unmarked ZipLock™ bag of the new secret flavor, White Chocolate & Peppermint, Warren and Sara revealed their new Pretzel Crisps® variety at the 2009 New York Fancy Food show. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Turns out that sweet, salty, creamy, crispy and minty all get along quite well indeed.
2010 – A New Look And A New Line
Taking the brand’s ‘Rethink Your Pretzel’ tagline to heart, we decided to rethink the packaging too, with brighter colors, an updated logo and sparkling new photography. 2010 also marked the introduction of the Modern Classics line, created with the natural foods consumer in mind. Tuscan Three Cheese, Supreme, Cinnamon Toast and Classic flavors are classing up natural food stores nationwide.
2011 – Pretzel Crisps® Gets Bold And Spicy!
Fueled by the wildly successful Buffalo Wing variety, we knew it was time to expand our Bold & Spicy category. 2011 marks the introduction of two new Pretzel Crisps® Deli Style flavors: Jalapeño Jack and Chipotle Cheddar. The hot and spicy pair combines the perfect amount of spicy kick and cheesy goodness to the world’s greatest flat-baked pretzel cracker.
Holiday 2011 – Dark Chocolate Meets White Chocolate
Just in time for the holiday season, we’ve added a new chocolate covered Pretzel Crisps® flavor to our Holiday Indulgents line. New Dark Chocolate & Peppermint combines rich dark chocolate with sweet peppermint candy pieces, a perfect match to last year’s seasonal favorite, White Chocolate & Peppermint.
2012 – New Jersey Entrepreneur Of The Year
With more than 18 registered patents and several successful brands under their belts, Snack Factory’s founding visionaries, Sara and Warren Wilson were awarded the prestigious Ernst & Young Master Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2012 New Jersey Award!
October 2012 – Snyder’s-Lance Acquires Snack Factory
Snyder’s-Lance, Inc. family of snack foods has acquired Snack Factory, LLC and its fast-growing Pretzel Crisps® brand! Since 2004, the world’s first, flat-baked, exceptionally thin pretzel cracker has been a favorite among snackers of all ages. Known for its innovative flavor profiles and its commitment to providing high-quality ingredients, Snyder’s-Lance and Snack Factory will continue to build the Pretzel Crisps brand and offer great-tasting, better-for-you snacks for its broadening base of passionate, influential consumers nationwide.