Wyandot Popcorn Museum, Marion, Ohio
Our reason for stopping here was to visit a very special museum we had discovered while reading another blog. It was the Wyandot Popcorn Museum located in Marion’s Heritage Hall. I know what you’re probably thinking, you went to visit a what? You know the old saying Never judge a book by its cover the same goes for a museum Never judge a museum by its name. This turned out to be an absolutely fascinating museum. Come on, we’ll show you.
The entrance into the Museum itself.
Everything is coming up popcorn!
This is a general view of the Museum looking left and right.
Now for some of the special exhibits. The first is what I call the Paul Newman Popcorn Wagon.
Look at the attention to detail, the pin-striping is simply breathtaking.
Touring the Museum I discovered that the name commonly associated with popcorn, popcorn machines and wagons, and popcorn trucks is Charles Cretor.
This is the 1899 Cretor’s #1 Popcorn and Peanut wagon. This rare antique is the third oldest Cretor Wagon in existence. It was the first professionally restored antique and set the bar for future restorations. This is what it looked like before it was restored
This is what it looks like today. The difference is like night and day. The attention to detail, the paint, the lettering, the molding around the top, just beautiful.
The Cretor’s Number 2 wagon was a great favorite among business owners and street vendors. It was inexpensive and reliable. It was advertised as a sure fire money making machine. The pitch was just set it up in front of your place of business and the smell of fresh popcorn will bring customers to your doors. Cretor’s promoted it as the most successful and best money getter of any machine on the market at an equal price. This got me to thinking, could this be a new way of raising money for gas for the RV? Roll into an RV park, set up, bring out the wagon and being selling bags of peanuts and popcorn!
The next is a rather unusual Cretor wagon.
The wagons of the late 1800’s were nearly all small, hand pulled carts for use on street corners or at fairs, or public events. After 1900, larger horse drawn wagons began to appear. By 1900, Cretors introduced the Special – the first large horse drawn popcorn wagon. It was an immediate success. Three variations of this wagon were created and for the first time in 15 years, C. Cretors and Company showed a nice profit. The machines were, for the most part, still nearly custom made, holding to the Cretors tradition – meeting the specific needs of specific customers. This was also the time period that electricity was becoming the wave of the future. Charles Cretors created the first popcorn machine with an electric motor. Charles did what he knew best – to give his customers the best he had to offer and the best they could buy anywhere.
Then there was this. The first driven popcorn wagon, the forerunner to the modern day concession trailer. It is one of only seven remaining Cretor’s Popcorn trucks of the Model T style.
The above are just some – some – of the many wagons on display. Each either painstakingly restored or in the process of. It was absolutely fascinating to see the many variants of popcorn machines and carts and wagons. There’s more, though, for instance I learned that popcorn is an actual planted corp. I also learned that the majority of commercial popcorn is what is called the pearl type.
Ever wonder how popcorn became part of the movie theater experience?
An early popcorn theater machine – catch the last three sentences starting with assured trouble-free operation. . .
There was also an entire exhibit on the Wyandot family, from how they first got into the popcorn business, when their sons came into the business, global expansion, the devastating fire in Marion, the rebirth of the plant, and their continues success today. Go to their web site, go to history, you will find it absolutely remarkable what a family can do when they put their mind to it.
Moving away from popcorn, there was an entire exhibit on Cracker Jack.
A display of all items once offered in a box of Cracker Jack.
That was where and how we spent our day today. It was an absolutely fascinating place to visit and I’m so glad we went out of our way to do so. If you are ever in this area take the time to do so yourself – you’ll absolutely enjoy it.
Thanks again for joining us on our journey, we’ll see you tomorrow.
These are the voyages of Graybeard and it’s occupants, four paws and two humans. Our continuing mission: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before
See you on down the road!