Mikesell’s history: Beginning with a dried beef slicer, D.W. Mikesell grew a potato chip empire in Dayton

Mikesell’s, the company that bills itself as “the oldest potato chip manufacturer in the United States,” is going out of business.

The company announced Wednesday that it hopes to sell its brand and IP rights to another snack food manufacturer to potentially continue the Mikesell’s brand.

Here is a look at the history of Mikesell’s and how the business started in Dayton:

Daniel W. Mikesell, a Miami County native who moved to Dayton in 1906 at age 23, worked in wholesale and retail dry goods and as a collector for one of the city’s two telephone companies.

Around the same time Wilbur and Orville Wright were introducing the world to manned flight and Charles Kettering was working on the self-starting automobile ignition, Mikesell decided to try to make his way in the business world.

Mikesell bought a second-hand dried beef slicer, and shortly after, he bought equipment to make “Saratoga chips.” He started out selling dried beef and sausage and soon after started making Saratoga chips in 1910.

He didn’t exactly invent potato chips, but had an early hand in perfecting one of the world’s snack food staples.

A 1915 Dayton Daily News article with the headline, “The potato chip, which is the pick for picnics,” said that at the time, “One man in Dayton manufactures about 95 percent of the potato chips sold in the city, D.W. Mikesell, of 142 South Williams Street.”

The article went on to say, “Mikesell’s potato chips have proven the most popular for family use and outings, because they are made with the kind of care requisite to success in any line - the pride of the specialist. Mr. Mikesell’s has the facilities to offer a superior potato chip, one one which the public need not hesitate to adopt for exclusive use.”

At the time, Mikesell’s had two large delivery trucks and a horse and wagon which were kept busy filling orders.

The chips were sold in 5-cent and 10-cent packages, in sealed wax paper bags or in boxes.

In 1921, Mikesell’s, which was doing business out of the South Williams street building, opened two retail stands in the new Jefferson-Main Arcade, selling potato chips and pop corn fritters, which Mikesell made himself, along with cold meats and cheese.

Credit: NONE

Credit: NONE

In 1925, the chips were rebranded as “Mike-sells” potato chips. That logo lasted for more than 70 years.

Over the years Mikesell’s expanded the business many times at the South Williams street site.

In 1955, Mikesell’s moved its manufacturing operations away from the original site to a new location in Dayton, at 333 Leo St.

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