Residents nibbling their last Gibble’s

— By PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
A single bag of pretzels remained at Sunnyway Foods on Friday afternoon. The cheese puffs sold out Thursday, and the chips Friday morning. The run on the locally-made snacks occurred after the new owner of Nibble with Gibble's announced Thursday that he was discontinuing the line. Since a few deliveries occurred after this scene, customers did find more Gibbles products in the following days.

The Nibble with Gibbles snack line is history, effective March 9, and local residents are upset.

The Greencastle company, founded by the Gibble family in 1959, provided a wide variety of potato chips which became favorite munchies in south-central Pennsylvania and beyond. The business was purchased by Martin's Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc., Chambersburg, in 1994, and sold just last December to Eldon Dieffenbach, Berks County. Martin's planned to devote its energy to its baking business. Dieffenbach said at the time he wanted to add to his product line.

Thursday Dieffenbach announced that Saturday would be the last day the snacks were manufactured from the 6647 Molly Pitcher Highway plant. Fans flocked to grocery stores to clear out the Gibbles inventory. Dieffenbach said Gibble's Food was discontinuing production in order to focus on private label manufacturing. Approximately 30 employees are affected by the shutdown. Martin's was overseeing the distribution since December and intended to do so through April.

The original Dieffenbach's Potato Chips Inc. in Womelsdorf has publicly disavowed any connection with Gibbles. Online websites state that the family-owned business ended a relationship with Dieffenbach over seven years ago. The Gibbles CEO is listed on work-related websites as also involved in electrical contracting, wood reclamation, a farm operation and an IT company.

Customers disappointed

As the news spread throughout Greencastle and Antrim Township, customers voiced their opinions about the loss of their favorite foods. Several commented on the Echo Pilot Facebook page. "Such a sad day in Greencastle," posted Jennifer.  Susan was "very, very sad."  One person wrote, "Just had a friend pick me up some in McConnellsburg! Oh how I will miss you, Mr. BBQ Gibbles." "Nooooo," said Sarah. "Worst day EVER."  Residents from Florida rued that they would no longer be able to buy Gibbles in the southern state. Belinda spoke for them all, "That breaks my heart."

No longer will they eat regular, BBQ, Red Hot, Country Cured or Kay & Ray's potato chips, or pretzels or Cheese Puffys. Someone started a Bring Back Gibble's Chips Facebook page. At Greencastle-Antrim Elementary School, Shippensburg University student volunteer Robert Cooper, 20, used the news to make social studies come alive for fourth-graders.

"A lot of them were very upset," he said. "I related this to the local economy, and people losing jobs. It made them understand a little bit."

For the assignment, the youngsters wrote about their favorite chips.

"I like Kay & Ray's chips because whenever I went to my great-aunt Barbara's cabin, she always had a bag of them," said Sarah.

"I don't want Gibbles to stop making popcorn because it's so good," said Dalton.

Josh liked mini-pretzels because of the salt. Connor liked the chips "because they are really good." Colby favored the hot chips. Isabella said what she thought, "I like when I eat the cheese puffys because when I pick one up I get cheese on my fingers. I am SO upset."

Aspen was sad that Gibbles was closing because his family always bought the snacks on the Fourth of July. "I wish they don't shut it down and my favorite is the plain chips," wrote Caillou. Brent admitted he used to hog the cheese puffs.

A little different

Gibbles chips may have been popular because they were made a little differently than those from larger companies. The label on a bag of chips explained their recipe.

The company used lard instead of other available oils. "Why? Because we believe that simple and natural is best. We at Gibble's are proud to use the same fine ingredients that made us a hit many years ago at our farmers market stand - chips so wonderfully good they're "Nibble Gibble-icious!" We want to be your potato chip!"

Fans agreed, and weren't the ones who bailed.