Golden Flake Parent Company Negotiating Sale
Golden Flake Potato Chips is up for sale as part of a merger being worked out by its parent company Utz. Golden Flake was once half of the 'Great Pair Says the Bear' combination with Coca Cola sponsoring legendary Alabama Football Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's iconic Sunday afternoon coaches television broadcast. Golden Flake Chips were popular before Bryant's endorsement but after his name and the potato chip's name became synonymous, Golden Flake sales soared in Alabama and across the southeast, including home states of archrival schools.
Utz Quality Foods, Inc. bought Birmingham-based Golden Enterprises, Golden Flake’s parent company, for $141 million in 2016. Now Bloomberg is reporting Utz is in negotiations with Collier Creek Holdings to buy the Pennsylvania based snack food company. They report the deal could be worth more than $1 billion and could be finalized by the end of the month. However, Bloomberg cautions the deal is not done yet and could still fall through.
Founded in 1921 by Bill & Salie Utz, 'Utz' as it is better known, is the largest independent, privately held snack food brand in the United States. Based in Hanover, Pennsylvania, the company produces a wide variety of potato chips, pretzels, and other snacks. Besides Golden Flake, Utz owns Zapp's Chips and Inventure Foods (marketer and manufacturer of Boulder Canyon Foods, TGI Fridays, Nathan's Famous, Vidalia Brands, Poore Brothers, and Tato Skins, Bob's Texas Style).
Five Golden Flake executives were implicated in an insider trading scheme related to the 2016 merger between Golden Enterprises and Utz. Investigators claimed the men purchased Golden Enterprises’ stock in advance of the merger and took in profits individually that added up to about $437,000. The Alabama men agreed to settle the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges. None admitted wrong doing.
Golden Flake was founded in 1923 in the basement of a Hill’s Grocery store in north Birmingham. Their website says more than 600 manufacturing and production employees work in the company's two manufacturing plants, located in Birmingham and Ocala, Fla.
Every Sunday afternoon following a Saturday Crimson Tide football game Coach Bryant and the show moderator would pop the top on Cokes and open a bag of Golden Flake chips before reviewing the previous day's game footage. Bryant would mumble about how the two products made a great pair. John Forney, Bill Austin, and Steadman Shealy all hosted the program at some point but it was Alabama Sports Information Director Charlie Thornton who hosted longest from 1967 to 1981.
Sunday afternoon was special to college football fans across Alabama as "The Bear Bryant Show" aired at 4:00 pm and was followed by the "Auburn Football Review". It was like gameday all over again. Bryant's folksy manner, mispronunciation of names and exclamations of "Bingo, that's a goodie" after an exceptional play endeared him to Bama fans and enemy school fans alike.
It became a running laugh each Sunday afternoon as Charlie struggled to open the bag and coach Bryant would razz him about it. Even today if you access video of the program on YouTube, fans of a certain age remark about how comfortable it feels viewing the aging video.
At its peak, The Bear Bryant Show was the highest-rated syndicated program in America. It still evokes fond memories because it was downhome and not a slickly packaged program like many of today's coaches shows. Unfortunately, not all of the programs were recorded for posterity.
During the show, when the camera was on Bryant and his host, there was always a bottle of Coca Cola and a silver tray of Golden Flake prominently displayed. Billboards across the state displayed the two brands together with "The Bear" looking favorably at them.
The Golden Flake brand lives own but now possibly with yet another owner.