‘Potato Chip Lady’ passes away at 90

Myrtle Young speaks with NewsChannel 15 in 2005.
Myrtle Young speaks with NewsChannel 15 in 2005.
Myrtle Young shows off her potato chip collection to NewsChannel 15 in 2005.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A local woman made headlines when she went on the “Tonight Show” in 1987 to show off her potato chip collection to Johnny Carson.  90-year-old Myrtle Young died of natural causes Saturday.

If you’re not familar with Young’s story, she was a potato chip inspector at Seyfert’s in Fort Wayne for 17 years.  She had a creative eye for seeing things in the chips that her fellow coworkers didn’t.

“I was finding little pets, birds, and butterflies.  But, now I have Bob Hope and I have Rodney Dangerfield,” Myrtle Young told NewsChannel 15 back in 1987.

That was Myrtle Young back in 1987 after her collection hit national television on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

“ Now that would be a dog,” Johnny Carson told Young.

“An angry dog or an angry bear,” Young asked.

“Kind of like a beagle,” replied Carson on the Tonight Show.

More famous than her debut was the prank Johnny Carson pulled on her.  Something she recalled in 2005 when Carson died.

“I heard that crunch.  Oh my goodness! And I looked and Carson is eating chips.  And I thought he was eating my collection.  The only collection in the world,” Young told NewsChannel 15 in 2005.

Days after her big debut in 1987 she vowed to never stop adding to her potato chip collection.

Her daughter, Marilyn Wiles, told NewsChannel 15 over the phone Monday her Mom kept that promise.  The world famous potato chip collection grew to more than 300 pieces!

“I think it kind of got to be ‘Look what I brought home this week! Do you see this?’ And I would say, ‘Yeah, I do,’” daughter Marilyn Wiles said.

Wiles says there’s something everyone can learn from her sweet mother with a big imagination:

“There was always a reason to get up in the morning because number one she didn’t know who might stop by to see the collection.  It was wonderful.  She led a wonderful life.”

Myrtle’s collection of chips took her to London, Japan, just about everywhere.

Her daughter says the family has talked about preserving the collection at the Smithsonian Institute or even keeping it here locally at the History Center.


Check out the iconic segment with Johnny Carson here: 

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