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Iowa Makes the Good Stuff: JOLLY TIME Pop Corn

October 22, 2014

Americans consume approximately 16 billion quarts of popcorn annually, or about 51 quarts for every man, woman and child in the U.S.  A substantial amount of credit goes to American Pop Corn Company, located in Sioux City, Iowa, and makers of JOLLY TIME popcorn.

In the early days of the 20th Century, popcorn was a rare treat but hardly the accessible product we know today. An early challenge was that too many of the kernels wouldn't pop, and for many years the only place you could find the tasty treat would be from an occasional street vendor.

Cloyd Smith changed all that in 1914. Unable to sell his popcorn for a price he thought fair, he hauled his harvest by wagon 60 miles from his Sac County farm to his home in Sioux City.  He and his son, Howard, shucked the corn at his home by hand in their basement and sold it themselves. 

From that basement, the American Pop Corn Company was born -- later becoming the nation’s first popcorn manufacturer and producer of 75,000 pounds of popcorn the first year. The company’s JOLLY TIME brand quickly spread across the country. 

By 1916, Smith patented and built a corn crib capable of holding 50,000 bushels and a cleaning facility on the outskirts of Sioux City. In 1925, JOLLY TIME became the first food brand to earn the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Popcorn was most often packaged in cardboard boxes in the early days, which proved unreliable because the popcorn lost so much moisture the kernels would not pop. Smith and his son, Howard, changed that by canning popcorn to retain moisture and shelf life.

In 1927, American Pop Corn began packaging JOLLY TIME in resealable metal pails that preserved the kernels’ moisture and allowed consumers to eat popcorn more often. 

The invention of the microwave revolutionized the popcorn industry. Determined to capitalize on this new opportunity, JOLLY TIME was among the first to offer microwavable popcorn. The American Pop Corn Company has remained a family business throughout its century-long history and hasn't slowed down!

Today, the company’s 180 employees process over 60 million pounds of  JOLLY TIME popcorn annually for customers throughout the U.S. and more than 40 countries around the world.



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Iowa Economic Development Authority
200 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Phone: 1.515.348.6200
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