Big Game Crunch Starts With Illinois Corn

Frito-Lay is one of the largest snack food manufacturers in the United States. They make some of the most popular potato chips in the American marketplace, including Lay’s, Fritos, Doritos, Cheetos, Tostitos and many others. And farmers in Illinois play a huge role in the production of these Frito-Lay products. 

With Super Bowl Sunday approaching, millions of American television viewers will be enjoying their favorite Frito-Lay snacks while watching the big game. Many varieties of chips and dips are enjoyed on Super Bowl Sunday. 

The 2023 Super Bowl was the most-watched U.S.-based telecast of all-time, drawing an average of over 115 million viewers. With an extended pregame show, live musical performances at halftime, and of course the much-anticipated commercials, the Super Bowl appeals to viewership outside of just football fans. Super Bowl Sunday is treated like a national holiday in the U.S., with friends and family gathering in large groups to enjoy day-long activities. This year’s Super Bowl will take place Sunday, February 11, in Las Vegas. Usher will be the halftime performer. 

Frito-Lay has two corn processing plants in the U.S., one in Nebraska and the Frito-Lay Midwest Corn Handling Facility east of Sidney in rural Champaign County. Over 125 Illinois farmers within a 60-mile radius of the facility ship their grain there. Corn is obviously a big component in producing potato chips, and Illinois farmers are directly involved with the ingredients used to make those favorite snack treats produced by Frito-Lay. 

Legendary farmer Max Miller of Oakland became known as the ‘Frito man’ in the 1960s. Demand for corn was surging, and Miller’s corn supply reached one million bushels per year. He would ship corn to Frito-Lay facilities across the south and east coast before a new facility opened in Sidney. 

The connection with Illinois farmers and Frito-Lay was jump-started in 1983, when the corn processing plant opened in Sidney. Corn from Illinois goes for Frito-Lay products that are shipped to the eastern half of the country, while the Nebraska facility takes care of the western half of the nation. It’s safe to say that any Frito-Lay potato chip brand bought in Illinois is made with corn from Illinois farms. Local farmers and employees at the Sidney facility take great pride in knowing their home-grown ingredients go directly into making Frito-Lay products that are stocked on local shelves. 

At Krukewitt Farms in Champaign County, corn and soybeans are grown over 2,600 cultivated acres. Most of the corn is high quality yellow and white corn and is contracted to Frito-Lay for corn chips.  The Decker brothers in Philo, also in Champaign County, grow white corn for Frito-Lay.