Jolly Time Corn Popper – 1936
Throwback Thursday takes us to the year 1936 and the antique electric hand crank Jolly Time Corn Popper. This piece was manufactured by The American Pop Corn Company, (established 1914 in Sioux City, Iowa) which is the oldest popcorn company in The United States. Cloid Smith, the company’s founder, was displeased with the price of popcorn that was sold from his farm, and decided to embark on his own business venture. Early on, the business operated from the basement of his residence. Very quickly business was booming and the operation expanded to a shelling and cleaning building. In the first year of production, the company sold 75,000 pounds of popcorn
Early distribution of popcorn was unsuccessful, due to the fact that the kernels were difficult to package. When stored in cardboard, popcorn went bad and did not pop. Storing kernels in glass was simply unrealistic. Luckily, Cloid Smith and The American Pop Corn Company came up with the perfect solution: metal cans. The use of these containers sealed in moisture and kept the kernels fresh. The American Pop Corn Company cans were made by The American Can Company, who also manufactured the first beer can. During the 1930s, a ten ounce can of Jolly Time popcorn cost ten cents. From this development came The American Pop Corn Company slogan: “Guaranteed to Pop.” During the Great Depression, and through World War II, The American Pop Corn Company’s “Jolly Time” brand was an affordable alternative the expensive snacks.
Additionally, the company offered popcorn poppers which were available by mail for just one dollar. In the 1930s the company funded an NBC radio show called “General Jolly Time and the Pop Corn Colonels”. With such a strong focus on marketing, the brand “Jolly Time” became one of America’s most popular snack foods.
The Jolly Time hand crank corn popper was a mainstay in middle to upper class America during the 40’s and 50s. This 9” x 7” popper is black with red wooden accents. The kernels were heated through electricity, and the hand crank allowed an operator to stir the corn, ensuring popcorn at the bottom of the popper was not burnt. In addition, the crank made it possible to mix in sugar or spices to create variants of popcorn flavor. This style of popcorn maker is fairly common in the antique business, due to the fact that they were so popular and prevalent.
The advent of the hot air popper and the microwave greatly transformed the way that American’s consume popcorn. The American Pop Corn Company was the first to react, with the introduction of Jolly Time Microwave popcorn in 1984. Additionally, the company pioneered research with superior yellow popcorn and products with reduced fat, calories and sodium. Since the 1990s Jolly Time has grown to include a plethora of flavors and healthy choices for its loyal customer base. It is important to keep in mind the roots of this American company, and it is easy to appreciate that through the Jolly Time Popper. Click on the photos to view the Jolly Time Corn Popper closer or stop in to The PAST Antiques Marketplace on Route 85 in Montville to learn more about this piece. Check back next week for another Throwback Thursday from The PAST!