A Look Back: ‘Cleveland’s Snack Food’ Building Destroyed

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CLEVELAND -- Investigators continue to search for the cause of a massive building fire that forced a number of families from their homes Tuesday night.

For more than five decades, the Dan Dee Pretzel and Potato Chip Company was the manufacturing site of what many people called Cleveland’s snack food.

More than 80 firefighters battled the blaze inside the industrial building at East 65th St. and Sidaway Ave. The fire broke out about 8:30 p.m.

Fire officials said the building had been vacant for years, but the current owner was using the building for storage.

The blaze broke out directly behind Jane Rolf’s backyard and she was worried about it reaching her garage.

“The flames were just horrible. I mean it was engulfed so bad. It just went up so fast," she said.

Rolf was among a number of residents forced to evacuate.

“They made us leave in case. They said they don't know what's in there. There could be an explosion. So, the people on my street got evacuated," she said.

The building that is now in ruins holds a lot of history.

In 1928, the Dan Dee Pretzel and Potato Chip Company moved its entire operation here. Tom Pike said three generations of his family have been involved with the business.

“Most cities have their own snack food companies and Dan Dee was considered the Cleveland-based snack food company,” he said.

Pike said Dan Dee was expanding when it moved into the facility on East 65th St.

"Dan Dee originally started making pretzels, and then when they moved to this facility that burned down, they moved there because they wanted to begin making potato chips and corn twisties and popcorn and egg noodles, in fact," Pike said.

Dan Dee remained a Cleveland icon until the business was sold in 1984 and production moved out of state.

Pike said that the fire may have destroyed the building, but not what the business meant to people from the city.

"Cleveland people still really look toward a name like Dan Dee. They think of it as their own grown product. But, I would have to say that this is the final chapter of the manufacturing aspect of Dan Dee here in Cleveland, seeing that destroyed," he added.

Firefighters returned to the scene Wednesday to continue to douse hot spots.

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