The Lays Potato Chip Company was started in Nashville in 1932 by Herman W. Lays. Although he didn’t invent the potato chip, he began his business by simply delivering the tasty chips produced in an Atlanta factory. Seeing the popularity and demand for the snacks, Lay bought out the Atlanta company that produced the chips, and he formed the H.W. Lay & Company, which quickly became one of the largest snack food companies in the South East.
He personally drove throughout the region, selling the chips out of the back of his car. As his company grew, he was responsible for a lot of the production innovation in the snack food industry. The H.W. Lay & Company soon became known as simply the Lay’s Company, and it quickly expanded across the States by utilizing the television to mass marketing their snacks.
In 1961 Lay’s merged with the Frito Company, which had become popular in Texas with fried corn chips, forming Frito-Lay Inc. The merger made them the largest single manufacturer of snack foods, allowing them to pursue world wide sales. Frito-Lay now account for 59% of the domestic chip industry--a big jump from Herman Lays’ humble beginnings in Nashville. There is still a factory in Nashville.