Better Made Snack Foods CEO Salvatore Cipriano, 80, has died

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News
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A longstanding Detroit business has lost its CEO with the death of Salvatore "Sam" Cipriano, CEO of Better Made Snack Foods. 

Cipriano died Tuesday from heart failure at age 80. He was the CEO of the iconic potato chip company for 10 years and the second generation to lead Better Made, where he's worked for decades. His father, Peter Cipriano, co-founded the company with Cross Moceri 90 years ago. 

Sal Cipriano, President of Better Made stands inside the potato chip production facility in Detroit. (FILE-2005)

“He was loved by everyone at Better Made and those that knew him, and will be missed tremendously," said his sister, Cathy Gusmano, chairman of the board at Better Made Snack Foods, in a statement confirming Cipriano's death. 

Arrangements are being made, and Cipriano's family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to the American Heart Association. 

Better Made is celebrating 90 years of business with a year-long observance that kicked off last summer. Founded in 1930, the Detroit-based snack food company is best known for potato chips, but also makes popcorn and pork rinds and sells more than 120 flavors and products. 

Cipriano's signature is on the back of every Better Made bag. 

"There was a wonderful man behind that scrawl," said Karen Dybis, author of "Better Made in Michigan," a book about the company and its history. "What made Sal such an important part of Better Made was his loyalty to his family, to the brand and to the values that cemented this company as a Detroit icon."

She said Cipriano gave Better Made a face and a personality, and was also devoted to Ford Motor Co. and the Piquette Avenue Plant as well where he was a volunteer for many years.

"He understood what his father, Peter Cipriano, believed about potato chips and Better Made in particular: 'We don't want to be the biggest. We just want to be the best.'"

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens

Sam Cipriano, CEO of Better Made, holding a certificate from Gov. Whitmer's office and Cathy Gusmano, internet and retail store sales manager, holding a certificate from the Detroit City Council
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