Nabs for a Nickel, No More

Lance Cracker trucks in Charlotte in the 1940s.

On March 6, 1970, Lance Crackers produced the last of its trademark five-cent items.

The company was formed in Charlotte in 1913, largely by accident, when food broker Phillip L. Lance got stuck with 500 pounds of Virginia peanuts that he couldn’t use. Instead of simply returning them to the farmer, Lance roasted the nuts and sold them in small bags for a nickel.

Inspired by his initial success, Lance soon moved his business out of his home and into a factory on Charlotte’s College Street, where he both roasted peanuts and made peanut butter. His wife, Mary, and daughters are credited with first spreading peanut butter between two crackers around 1915.

Lance began making its own crackers in 1938, though candy was actually the company’s primary product through World War II. Lance vending machines first appeared in 1954, and the company went public in 1961. Through this entire time all of the company’s individually-packaged products were sold for five cents.

Though the price of many its products changed in 1970, the company continued to be successful, expanding into grocery stores in 1982 and acquiring several competitors. In 2010, Lance merged with Synder’s of Hanover to become the second largest salty snack maker in the United States.

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