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Better Made Potato Chips – Uniquely Made in and Loved by Detroit

Detroitisit Talks to the Chip Brand About its Deep History in Detroit


As our third article featuring Detroit’s iconic brands, we focus on the salty and savory Better Made Potato Chips.

In 1930 Cross Moceri and Peter Cipriano became partners – making the chips out of their homes in Detroit. Originally known as Cross & Peters Company, in 1934 the brand was renamed Better Made and moved the operation to a facility on East McDougall Street.

The chips were first packaged in hand-stapled bags of waxed paper and sold in retail stores around the city. They were also sold door-to-door or from stands on Belle Isle. In 1937 workers at the company unionized and received 40 cents per hour.

Better Made moved to a Woodward Ave address near the Fox Theatre in the early 1940s and then – after World War II – settled into its current location on Gratiot Avenue between Harper Avenue and French Road.

1950s Better Made


In 1955, wavy and rigid potato chips were introduced, and in the 1960s came the Popcorn, Barbecue, Red Hot, and Cheese flavors. By the 1970s, Better Made expanded sales to Toledo, Ohio.

When Cipriano passed away in 1981 and then Moceri in 1984, ownership was inherited and split equally between the sons of the two men. It is still family-owned today.

Detroitisit had the opportunity to speak with V.P. of Purchasing Phil Gusmano, who has been with the company for nearly thirty years. 

DII: How do you think having roots in Detroit impacts the brand?

Gusmano: One of the things we are most proud of is our heritage that’s so intertwined with Detroit. We’ve been in Detroit since 1930. When others made the decision to move out of the city, we remained. Detroiters appreciate that.

DII: Do you think people associate Better Made with Detroit and vice versa?

Gusmano: Absolutely. If I’m wearing a shirt with a Better Made logo on it and I’m out of town or in an airport, nine times out of ten someone will walk up and ask “Is that the Better Made that’s in Detroit?” The nostalgic piece is important too, and a big part of our brand. People tell me stories all the time about how they grew up with Better Made chips in their lunch at school, or that they ate Better Made chips with their grandparents, that sort of thing.

Also, if you google Better Made tattoos you’ll see that many people have some amazing Better Made artwork on their bodies.

It’s a neat brand to be a part of and to work for.

DII: What impact do you think Better Made has made on the city of Detroit?

Gusmano: Again, I think the fact that we have been part of the city for so long is indicative of our support. We employ local. 70% of our employees come within a five-mile radius of the building. Where we live and where we work are one in the same. We take pride in buying local as well.

Old BM Truck


DII: In what ways does Better Made support the community?

Gusmano: We are involved in many sponsorships and support many local charities. We are a sponsor of the Metro Detroit Youth Day on Belle Isle sponsor and have been since day one. We do a lot with local schools. We support first responders. Better Made also gives a lot of friend and family discounts to local fundraising events and so on.

On a larger level, we do a lot with Multiple Sclerosis Foundation and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

DII: Better Made survived the Great Depression, World War II and also Detroit’s Bankruptcy – where did the resilience come from?

Gusmano: It comes directly from customer loyalty. We, as a company, work to give the customer a great product at a fair price and we will continue to do so.

DII: Do you think the revitalization of Detroit impacts Better Made at all?

Gusmano: The revitalization impacts all of us and we are thrilled that it’s happening. We’ve been huge proponents of the city since 1930 and that’s never wavered. As a company, we are proud of that – our unwavering support.

DII: Is Michigan your most popular distribution area?

Gusmano: Yes. Michigan is our wheelhouse. We distribute in many other states, and on a small scale we distribute nationally and internationally but Michigan is our bread and butter.

DII: Does Better Made use Michigan Potatoes?

Gusmano: Yes. A fun fact is that Michigan is the largest chip-producing state in the country. There is more chip stock grown in the state of Michigan than anywhere else. One out of every four bags of chips sold in the U.S. is made from potatoes that came from Michigan. Better Made uses a quarter of a million pounds per day.

DII: If the brand could talk, what would it say about Detroit?

Gusmano: I think the brand would say “thank you” so much to our loyal customers – without our customers we are nothing.

DII: What is your favorite thing about working there?

Gusmano: After 28 years, I still really enjoy the chips.


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