Vintage Truck Ad: White 3000, The First Tilt Cab, Being Extolled By Tom of Tom’s Potato Chips, But Not Its Founder, Another Tom

Yes, my title is a bit convoluted. But when I saw that the guy in the ad extolling his White 3000 trucks hauling Tom’s Potato Chips was named Tom, I assumed he was the founder, just like the White 3000 was the founder of the modern tilt cab truck.

Not so, it turns out; about Tom, that is.

The White 3000, which arrived in 1949, was a real milestone in the development of the modern truck. Unlike all the pre-war COE (Cab Over Engine) trucks, which had a high cab sitting way up over the engine, the 3000 was a radical departure: by pushing the cab forward, the cab could be lower since the leg room area was now in front of the engine. And the White Mustang flathead six meant that the seats didn’t have to be very high either. And then of course there was the fairly radical concept of the whole thing tilting forward.

These were everywhere still in Baltimore after we arrived in 1965; the perfect city truck. I remember looking into the back of one once and being a bit surprised to see a big flathead six. What was I expecting?

During the 1950s, the demand for diesel engines grew steadily, so the 3000 had to be adapted to accept the big Cummins NH220. That required raising the cab some, as can be seen by the much deeper fenders. And it also required two additional radiator attached to the rear of the cab, whose fan was driven by a shaft running back there.

As to Tom’s, it has had a rather convoluted history. It started with a Tom Huston, who started selling nickel bags of roasted peanuts in 1925. Within two years they were being sold nationally, with $4 million in annual sales. But Tom couldn’t or didn’t pay back some notes, so he lost the company to the bank. It continued to grow fast without him.

General Mills bought Tom’s in 1966, and then it changed hands several more times. In 1988 it was bought by management, but that didn’t turn out well. Sales were on a downward trajectory. Another buyout in 1993 resulted in further declines, and Tom’s went belly-up.

Then in 2005, Snyder’s-Lance picked it up for cheap, and has been distributing them ever since.

As to that Tom Black in the ad, I suspect his company was a regional distributor.