Modern Popcorn Era


Long before Jody's Popcorn was conceived popcorn was a favorite American treat. Always part of our culture, the snack has gone through many ebbs and flows of popularity. Today, few munchies parallel the universal appeal of popcorn.

First American Popcorn Enthusiasts

Native Americans introduced colonists to popcorn. From there, the newcomers developed a penchant for the snack and even integrated it into daily meals, holidays and family traditions. The colonists were glad to embrace popcorn as one of the many bounties of the New World.

Flash forward to the late Victorian Era, when popcorn really began to take hold in American culture. It was in the 1880s in Odebolt, Iowa that the Albert Dickinson Company became known for selling popcorn from its Popcorn Wagon. Their well-received brands of popcorn were Big Buster and Little Buster.

Charles Cretors Popcorn Wagon

Taking a cue from the successful Popcorn Wagon, Charles Cretors of Chicago invented a popcorn machine in 1893. Cretors' machine made popping corn so much easier. The process also became an attraction for customers who liked to watch the popping process and enjoy the smell of freshly popped treats. The steam operated engine on a large wagon was an attractor in itself, but Cretors added to that the Tosty Rosty Man, a mechanical clown used for merchandising as a sort of mascot.

Tosty Rosty Man of Cretors Popcorn Wagon

Taking popcorn popping to the streets continued through to the Depression era with Cretors' machines selling all over the United States. Cretors' machines still pop on, with most movie theaters and fairs featuring Cretors poppers.

Popcorn Pops Into Hearts and Homes

America's first brand name popcorn was Jolly Time. Originally launched from Iowa in 1914, it took about 11 years for the company to hit pay dirt. Introduced more widely to the American public in 1925 in a specially made cooking can, the product was considered a bold and popular move for the era. Finally, every household could easily make popcorn without the hassle of the pan and butter.

When the Depression took financial hold, many families treasured popcorn as a treat they could afford to enjoy. The popcorn industry thrived during the monetary crisis, although most other consumer companies failed.

One down-and-out banker saw opportunity in the Depression popcorn industry. He had gone completely broke and lost his family farms. He took what little money he could scrape together and invested in a popcorn machine and "opened for business" within a small store near a theater. Within only a few years, he was able to buy back three of his lost farms.

In World War II the troops took precedence over non-military Americans in many ways. Patriotism was high at that time and people adapted to changes in order to provide additional support for their boys at war.

One change was that most sugar was sent overseas to American soldiers. This left little in the country to make candy and even harvests couldn't keep up with demand, due to diminished labor. Without sugar, Americans gave up their candy habit and resumed their Depression era relationship with popcorn.

In the 1940s, microwave ovens were invented. Not yet widely available for general consumers, these cooking machines showed great promise for the future. To test even cooking and capability of microwaves, popcorn was the first food cooked in the ovens.

During the Golden Age of the 1950s, when most Americans were doing much better financially after the war, popcorn sales still increased. In fact, a 500 percent sales boom was experienced during these years. Why? Most people attribute the snack habit to the presence of television in most homes. Americans then, just as now, enjoyed nothing more than a big bowl of popcorn while watching TV.

Jody's Popcorn makes a great sweet, savory or salty treat for all of your American traditions. Sold in convenient sizes, one bag makes a great movie even better.

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