Two potato: Chip king Utz buys Dirty and Zapp's

Utz Quality Foods, Hanover, Pa., which calls itself the largest independent US snack food maker, has agreed to buy Zappe Endeavors LLC, Gramercy, La., maker of Zapp's Voodoo Gumbo, Dirty, and other potato chip brands, for an undisclosd sum.

Utz is pretending this is a sort of merger of equals, a "business combination," as spokesman George Niederer told me. But Utz is lots bigger, with over 2,000 employees, vs a few hundred for Zappe.

And Zappe, which Zapp's Voodo Gumbo and Dirty brand chips, among others, is telling workers they've been bought, with plan to expand: “They’re not buying us to come down and fire y’all," reports the Advocate here.

In a brief statement, Utz promised "increased sales, wider distribution and increased employment." Niederer says Utz won't talk about the price or give more detail, at least until the deal is done.

Zappe's sale follows the death of founder Ron Zappe last year. Utz backed out of a previous proposed deal with Snyder's of Hanover Inc. in 2009, after complaining of the  volume and expense of paperwork demanded by the Federal Trade Commission, which is apparently concerned there may not be enough junk-food makers left to keep prices from rising.

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