2012-08-17 / Community

A Window on the Past

Remember Circus Time Potato Chips?
By Kathryn DiPhilippo
South Portland Historical Society


George Robinson Jr., treasurer of Circus Time Potato Chips, with John Graney, company president, at right. (Photo courtesy of Belle Graney and Dorothy Robinson) George Robinson Jr., treasurer of Circus Time Potato Chips, with John Graney, company president, at right. (Photo courtesy of Belle Graney and Dorothy Robinson) South Portland has had a long and interesting history in the potato chip business. Of course, King Cole Potato Chips started out on Main Street and later had a factory and distribution center on Cash Street, just down from Cash Corner. One of the founders of King Cole, Norman Cole, left and started the Humpty Dumpty potato chip business with George Robinson Jr., just down Main Street in Scarborough. And the third large potato chip business was Circus Time Potato Chips.

According to Belle Graney, Circus Time was founded in 1958 on Anderson Street in Portland by her husband, John Graney, and her brother, George Robinson Jr. In the mid-1960s, they were convinced by the city manager of South Portland, Bernal Allen, to move their operation to a new facility at 265 Western Ave. In addition to regular potato chips, Circus Time also packaged and sold barbecue chips, popcorn, pretzels and nuts.

John Graney and George Robinson did well with the business and sold it in 1975. According to Graney, the new owners expanded the business, hiring more people and adding new routes, but the business was later bought up by a larger national food manufacturer that eventually closed the Western Avenue location. The site is now home to Kaplan University.

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