Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘popcorn antiques’

A Whole Lot of Poppin’ Goin On at Wyandot Popcorn Museum

The better way to snack!

Wyandot Overview

The museum carries a circus theme under a red, white and blue canopy.

Popcorn and circus tents seem to go hand in hand so it’s no surprise that the inside of the Wyandot Popcorn Museum in Marion resembles a large circus tent. Under the tent, you’ll discover the largest collection of restored popcorn antiques in one place. This is one of only two popcorn museums in the world with working machines, the other one also being in Ohio at Holland.

Wyandot Factory

Wyandot Snacks now occupies the old popcorn factory.

   This collection began as part of a research project on the history of the Wyandot Popcorn Company by George K. Brown. At first Brown kept his collection in a one-room schoolhouse built in 1882. W. Hoover Brown, the founder of Wyandot Popcorn Company, attended this school and started the company there. But soon the collection exceeded the space available.

Wyandot Popcorn Museum in Marion

Wyandot Popcorn Museum is located in an old U.S. Post Office in Marion.

   After having displays at several locations, in 1989 the ninety-year-old U.S. Post Office building in downtown Marion became available for purchase. Heritage Hall became the perfect place for not only the Wyandot Popcorn Museum but also the Marion County Historical Society. So when you come for a visit, you get two museums for the price of one.

Wyandot Cracker Jack display

Informative guide, Val Mettler, explained that Wyandot made Cracker Jack for a decade.

   At this point, the Wyandot Popcorn trustees agreed to give financial support to the project if they could maintain 40% of the display space on the first floor for their popcorn memorabilia. The guides at the museum make the popcorn history come alive through the meaningful stories they tell.

Wyandot Paul Newman

This 1909 Dunbar horse-drawn wagon was used by Paul Newman to introduce his new line of popcorn in New York City.

   A machine owned by Paul Newman is a favorite at the museum. When Newman decided to move into the popcorn industry, he wanted to work with a purely American company so he chose Wyandot with a little friendly persuasion from George Brown. The cart on display was used in New York City to introduce his popped corn.

Wyandot Popcorn

Different varieties of popcorn create different shapes when popped.

   The owner, Brown, worked diligently to create hybrid popcorn grains that would have the proper moisture content so grains would pop evenly and there would be no unpopped kernels, called Old Maids, left behind. They also developed grains that would have bigger kernels when popped so it would take less popcorn to fill a bag.

Wyandot Circus Wagon Barnum & Bailey

Barnum & Bailey used this popcorn machine and peanut roaster.

   In 1996, Wyandot Popcorn Co had a major fire and the factory was closed for about a year. During that time, George paid more than 300 workers 60% of their regular pay as well as providing medical insurance for their families. When they resumed operation, each worker received a $1,000 bonus. It’s no surprise that 98% of the employees returned to work. With goodwill like this, it makes you want to find some Wyandot products to purchase.

Wyandot Sign

The sign’s logo indicates the town’s connection to the Wyandots, an early area Indian tribe.

   Today the business operates under the name, The Wyandot Snack Co., although now they make more than just popcorn. They produce grain-based snacks such as tortilla chips, cheese curls, corn chips and candy covered popcorn. The smells from their company at the edge of town let everyone know what they’re making that day.

Mr. Popcorn

Poppy is the mascot for Marion’s annual Popcorn Festival.

   Each September, the first weekend after Labor Day, Marion holds a Popcorn Festival starting with a parade on Thursday evening. This is the largest popcorn festival in the world and the weekend is filled with activities and entertainment. Admission to the museum is free this weekend of Sept. 6-8.

Wyandot Holcomb & Hoke

This beautiful 1918 Holcomb & Hoke buttered each kernel individually.

   Regular visiting hours for the museum through October are Wednesday thru Sunday from 1-4. Remember there’s more to see in Marion as this is the home of President Warren G. Harding. That will require a future Gypsy Road Trip.

Wyandot Box of Popcorn

Everyone receives a free box of popcorn when they finish the tour.

   Stop in at Wyandot Popcorn Museum for a poppin’ good time!

Wyandot Popcorn Museum is located at 169 E Church Street in Marion, Ohio, which is north of Columbus on Route 23. You can park on the street or there is handicapped parking in the rear. 

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