Salvatore Cipriano, CEO of Detroit’s Better Made snack company, dies
Salvatore (Sam) Cipriano, CEO of Better Made Snack Foods for a decade, died Tuesday of heart failure. He was 80 and still very active in the company.
Those who knew him said he loved his family, his business and his potato chips on Tuesday.
He was the second generation to run Better Made, and family-owned potato chip company Detroit said he had taken the business to new heights. Despite the pandemic, Better Made has introduced new flavors.
“He was loved by everyone at Better Made and those who knew him,” said his sister Cathy Gusmano, chairman of the snack food company’s board of directors, adding that he “will be missed very much.”
The family is making arrangements and has declined to give interviews through a spokesman. However, they asked for donations to be made to the American Heart Association on his behalf in lieu of flowers.
Last year, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Better Made, the company announced it would be releasing six to eight new products. That year it had already introduced a jalapeno cheddar flavored popcorn and pretzels filled with peanut butter.
“Our family has always taken pride in how we make our products, with quality first,” said Cipriano at the time. “From our humble beginnings when Detroit had over 20 potato chip makers, we’ve tried to make the best possible product.” And this hard work has paid off as we are the last ones standing. “
Better Made started out as Cross and Peters Co. in 1930, named after founders Cross Moceri and Peter Cipriano, but was founded a few years later to reflect the two men’s goal: to make a better potato chip.
Peter Cipriano was Salvatore’s father.
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Moceri and Cipriano were two immigrant cousins from Sicily who started frying potato chips at home and searching them for a nickel bag in Detroit. The company survived the Great Depression and other challenges for over 90 years.
Peter Cipriano died in 1981 and Cross Moceri left three years later. In 1994 the company acquired the Made Rite Snack Company and in 2004 it changed its name to Better Made Snack Foods.
Over the years, the company expanded to produce more than just potato chips. It now sells butter braided pretzels, popcorn, jalapeno puffs, potato sticks, tortilla chips, rinds, and party mixes.
In addition to the original chips, it offers a variety of flavors including BBQ, Red Hot, Sour Cream and Onion, Salt and Vinegar, and Sweet BBQ.
One of the things that made the potato chips stand out was the cooking method.
Selected potatoes wrapped in sackcloth were boiled in premium oil, weighed and packed by hand in sacks and then mostly distributed via the company’s own sales outlets, which became delivery routes.
The family business uses locally grown potatoes and crisps them in trans-fat-free cottonseed oil.
Last year, Cipriano touted the company’s goal as the key to success: “I always said we don’t try to be the greatest, we try to be the best!”
Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or [email protected]