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Utz will buy Vitner’s potato chips, popcorn brand for $25 million

Utz Brands Inc., the snack maker with a loyal Baltimore customer base, will acquire Chicago-based Vitner’s brand of potato chips, popcorn, and cheese and corn snacks for $25 million.

The Hanover, Pa.-based chip and pretzel brand said Monday that subsidiary Utz Quality Foods LLC has agreed to buy the Vitner’s brand from its parent company, Snak-King Corp. Vitner’s, founded in 1926, is a leading brand of snack foods in the Chicago metro area.

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The nearly century-old Utz went public in August after the former family-owned snack maker merged with consumer goods acquisition firm Collier Creek Holdings. The company at the time said the deal would allow it to aim to become the fastest-growing branded snack company in a growing salty snack category.

Utz salty snacks were first made in 1921 in Pennsylvania, but sold mostly across the state line in the Baltimore area. Founders Bill and Salie Utz cooked chips in their kitchen, then traveled to the city to sell them by the pound out of metal cans at city markets, including Lexington and Cross Street markets, and small grocers. Baltimore has been part of Utz’s core market ever since.

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Utz said the Vitner’s deal will give it a stronger foothold in the Midwest and Chicago, the fourth-largest salty snack market in the United States, to grow its brands, which include Utz, On The Border, Zapp’s, Golden Flake, Tortiyahs! and others. Utz plans to transfer the manufacturing of Vitner’s products to its own plants after a planned Feb. 8 closing.

The deal fits a strategy of expanding in major metro areas, Utz CEO Dylan LIssette said in Monday’s announcement. Utz launched expansions into New York City in 1994, Boston in 2004, Pittsburgh in 2006 and Atlanta in 2011.

Utz shares closed up 1.67% Monday at $21.91.

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