Zapp's creator, owner dies at age 67
Ron Zappe, creator and owner of Zapp’s Potato Chips, died today in Houston while undergoing treatment for throat cancer at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He was 67.
Zappe reinvented himself as a potato chip maker after his four petroleum service companies went bankrupt in the 1980s’ oil bust. He moved from Houston to Baton Rouge and purchased the empty facilities of the former Faucheux Chevrolet dealership in Gramercy, Louisiana.
Zappe experimented with and perfected a thicker-cut, kettle-fried potato chip using high-grade peanut oil and was featured in national publications, including "People" magazine and "The Wall Street Journal." He developed the nation’s first Cajun spicy potato chip, “Cajun Crawtators," in 1985. Other flavors included “Zapp’s Tiger Tators,” which became the first food product licensed by LSU, and “Who Dat?” chips.
Over the years, Zapp’s became the number two snack food in Louisiana and Texas. Today, Zapp’s employs 200 in chip-making facilities from coast to coast. Their sales have also grown by double digits over the last decade, despite Hurricane Katrina.
Zappe is survived by his wife, Anne, son Eric and daughter Kristin and three grandchildren. Funeral services will be held at St. James Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge. Dates and times are still pending.