The JOLLY TIME® Pop Corn brand was born in 1914 when Cloid H. Smith founded the American Pop Corn Company. Cloid, and his son, Howard, shelled and packaged the first JOLLY TIME® Pop Corn by hand in the basement of their home in Sioux City, Iowa. Prior to 1914, all popcorn was sold in bulk and, as a rule, not found in the grocery store at all. At that time, popcorn was a novelty for most people. It was primarily a gardener’s hobby – grown for a family’s enjoyment – or only available directly from the farmer.
Cloid grew up in “popcorn farm country,” about 60 miles east of Sioux City. He enjoyed the snack as a child and, as a young businessman, recognized the potential for a company that could offer this treat to the average American family.
The business was an instant success. In its first year of operation, over 75,000 pounds of JOLLY TIME® Pop Corn were sold.
“Only the Very Best”
Cloid’s mission for JOLLY TIME® Pop Corn was to sell “only the very best.” He remembered noticing as a boy that popcorn taken from the fields in the fall didn’t pop up as well as popcorn that had been stored some months in a corn crib. So in 1915, he developed a patented design for a corn crib that provided more ventilation to air dry the popcorn naturally to the peak of popping perfection. (To this day, these special corn cribs are used to store each year’s harvest “on the cob” and one employee is responsible for checking the moisture content on a daily basis.)
“Guaranteed to Pop”
Packaging was the next challenge. Cloid took his problem to the experts at American Can Company in Chicago. Cloid didn’t know it then, but the can developed for JOLLY TIME® in 1924 would prove to be the forerunner of today’s soft drink can. The Company’s promise of “Guaranteed to Pop,” plus packaging in a metal can, were important “firsts” for the popcorn industry and sparked a dramatic increase in the sale of packaged popcorn.
The word was out. In 1925, JOLLY TIME® Pop Corn earned the Good Housekeeping Seal. This recognition still stands today, and JOLLY TIME® has the distinction of maintaining this honor longer than any other food product.
Popping Up Innovation
Over the years, JOLLY TIME® has remained at the forefront of innovation in the popcorn industry.
1930s-1940s In addition to selling to grocery stores, the Company provided high quality popcorn to vendors and also made a special offer for an at-home electric popper via its sponsored weekly radio program. This program featured “General Jolly Time and his Pop Corn Colonels” and was heard over several leading radio stations from coast to coast. Thousands of poppers were sold through this offer, making it easier to pop corn at home. Although people had little money during the Depression, a 10-ounce can of JOLLY TIME® would pop enough popcorn for an entire family and cost as little as a dime.
1950s-1970s Celebrities such as Danny Kaye, Bob Hope, Alan Ladd and Ozzie and Harriet Nelson helped to familiarize American TV viewers and radio listeners with JOLLY TIME® Pop Corn. From 1956 to 1957, Arthur Godfrey personally endorsed JOLLY TIME as “the world’s best popcorn” on his popular CBS radio show broadcast nationwide.
1980s-1990s JOLLY TIME®’S first microwave popcorn was introduced and took the country by storm. JOLLY TIME® Natural Butter Flavored and Natural Flavor came first in 1983, followed by Cheddar Cheese Flavor in 1988. At the same time, the JOLLY TIME® business began to expand into international markets.
In 1991, JOLLY TIME® introduced American’s Best®, the first nationally distributed popcorn to display the Better-Life® grains seal on its label. The seal guarantees the popcorn has been grown without chemical pesticides. Also that same year, 100% All Natural Butter Flavored and Natural Flavor Microwave Pop Corn became the first national varieties of microwave popcorn to be packaged without artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
Today, JOLLY TIME® develops as many as 500 hybrids each year in its continuous effort to produce the highest quality popping and best tasting popcorn. It is the only brand to offer the choice of both golden (yellow) and white kernels in convenient, resealable poly bags for use with electric and stove-top popcorn makers.
And, unlike many of its competitors, JOLLY TIME® Pop Corn is a start-to-finish processor, packager and marketer, which positions the Company as an overall industry innovator.
Four Generations Of The First Family of Popcorn
JOLLY TIME® is now run by the fourth generation of Smiths – Carlton and Garrett (a.k.a. Garry) Smith – first cousins and the great-grandsons of company founder Cloid Smith. Carlton and Garry are quick to share the credit for the Company’s success with their “extended family” – almost 200 employees, some of whom represent second and third generations to work for the company. An American tradition since 1914, family and fun continue to be the focus of this company and its products. “Fun is our strategy,” say the Smiths.