In 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, Harold Lippold was 18 years old and unemployed; he had been recently laid off from his job at a local telephone company. According to an interview with his son, “he bought a defunct company with the logo; a witch’s cauldron sized copper pot, a case of printed bags, a stapler and a hand potato peeler for $150” and began walking the streets of south Omaha, selling bags of potato chips to local theaters and bars. His parents, Lou and Fred Lippold, became Harold’s business partners and Harold began using their car for distribution, and thus Kitty Clover Potato Chip Company was born.
The Lippolds originally ran the company from a 17’ by 25’ room at 16th and Cuming, but soon had to move and expand. The first Kitty Clover factory was an old dance hall at 24th and Pierce. In 1952, the company moved again, this time to a state-of-the-art facility on the corner of 24th and Martha. This factory was fully air conditioned and boasted a highly automated process, which, at its height, processed 250,000 pounds of potatoes every day. This factory was one of the largest potato chip factories in the world and is notable for being exclusively dedicated to potato chip production. Throughout its use, the factory never produced anything else.
The Lippolds owned and ran Kitty Clover together until 1959. Fred Lippold served as the President of the Company, Harold as the Executive Vice President and Lou as Secretary-Treasurer. Other members of the Lippold family also worked for the company and in 1956, a branch of Kitty Clover was operating in Kansas City. The company was sold in 1959 to Fairmont Foods Co, and Fred, Harold and Lou Lippold retired. Although members of the extended Lippold family continued to be involved with Kitty Clover, especially those in the Kansas City, it ceased to be a family-owned business. The name and logo were sold twice more: to Culbro Corp in 1978 and last to Borden Inc. in 1987.
Although the rate of production had decreased over the years, the factory at 24th and Martha continued operation from 1952 until its closure by Borden Inc in 1987. At the time of its final closure in October, 185 people were employed by the Kitty Clover Factory. The building was sold, but not destroyed and it still stand at 24th and Martha today.
Taylor, John. “Borden Will Close Kitty Clover Plant.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), 1987. America’s News – Historical and Current, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=AMNEWS&docref=news/12E024F66505DC08. Accessed 15 May 2020.
Odgaard, Nathan. “Potato – Chip Maker Harold Lippold Dies.” Omaha World-Herald (NE), 2001, p. 2b. America’s News – Historical and Current, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=AMNEWS&docref=news/12DD093310AA9618. Accessed 15 May 2020.
Richer Alan. “Kitty Clover Potato Chip Company.” Toga Chip Guy. http://www.togachipguy.com/page9/page35/index.html. Accessed 15 May 2020.
Photo credits Kitty Clover Factory Tour Brochure, DCHS
Omaha World Herald, factory opening in 1952