The 5oz bags will be unveiled tomorrow (Saturday, 15 October) by representatives from Mister Bee, New River Gorge Regional Development Authority (NRGRD), West Virginia Hive (NRGRDA’s accelerator programme), New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau in a specially erected Mister Bee/WV Hive tent on the southern end of the New River Gorge Bridge.
A rollout of the new packaging – designed by Asher Agency in Charleston – will follow in the coming days to local retail outlets throughout southern West Virginia and the Mountain State.
“We encourage people to join us on Bridge Day and to enjoy the scenic beauty of the New River Gorge region,” said Mary Anne Ketelsen, president of Mister Bee, noting that 876 bags (representing the height of the bridge in feet above the New River) will be handed out.
Jina Belcher (NRGRDA’s executive director) and Judy Moore (deputy director of NRGRDA and executive director of the West Virginia Hive) were instrumental in forming the partnership with Mister Bee.
Take in the sights
“Thousands of visitors from across the nation and the Mountain State are visiting the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve and taking in the sites and experiences in southern West Virginia,” said Belcher.
“NRGRDA, the West Virginia Hive, and New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) cannot act rapidly enough to respond to the tourism, outdoor recreation, community development and business growth. Judy and I were made aware of Mister Bee’s interest in reaching more customers in our region, so we proposed a new chip bag that would celebrate the state’s only potato chip company as well as the new national park and emergence of the New River Gorge region.”
Added Moore, “This success story is a prime example of how the entrepreneurial ecosystem we have built in southern West Virginia can add value to long-standing businesses as well as new start-ups and early-stage businesses seeking to grow or pivot.”
Ketelsen said this type of collaboration is a key reason Mister Bee Potato Chips continues to grow so rapidly.
Voted the Best West Virginia-made Food Product in 2021 by consumers, the woman-owned business has grown from 20 to 80 employees in the past two years.
Mister Bee Potato Chip Company was founded in 1951 by Leo and Sara Klein with the snacks freshly made each morning and immediately distributed by hand.
Leo Klein managed the business until he passed away at the age of 73 in 1979. It remained with the Klein family until incurring financial difficulties in 2010.
Mister Bee was acquired by new owners in 2015 and now operates as West Virginia Potato Chip Company.