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Iowa History Daily: August 14 - Jolly Time Popcorn

Iowa History Daily: On August 14, 1871, Cloid Smith, founder of America’s first major popcorn company (American Pop Corn Company/Jolly Time) was born in Sioux City, Iowa. The popcorn pioneer founded the company in his hometown in 1914.

Growing up on a farm which grew popping corn, Cloid Smith eventually grew tired of the prices he would get for his product. Starting in the basement of his Sioux City home, Cloid enlisted the help of his son Howard to hand-shell popcorn before personally approaching small grocers and street cart vendors in the hopes of distributing his product.

During the first year the business boomed, and operations moved into a new shelling and cleaning building in 1915. Overcoming the major challenge of packaging (glass would break; cardboard damaged the popping quality) by incorporating moisture-sealed metal cans in 1924, innovation paired with marketing to lead Jolly Time to national success.

A cheap and accessible food during the Great Depression, Jolly Time’s popularity continued to rise in the postwar era alongside that of movie theaters and television sets. Embracing marketing with television stars like Bob Hope and Ozzie & Harriet Nelson, the brand continued to grow. When the public embraced the microwave, Jolly Time again adapted to continue commercial success.

Today, the American Pop Corn Company continues to sell Jolly Time, and a fourth generation of the Smith family continues to run the show in Sioux City. The company celebrated the sale of their one-billionth bag of microwave popcorn in 2003. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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