Out on U.S. 10 in Clare, Michigan, there’s a popcorn machine
that’s been pumping out pounds of popcorn for almost 50 years
and shows no signs of petering out.
Ye Olde Popcorn Machine was built in 1913 by Creators, an
Illinois firm that now makes the sleek, shining machines popping
smugly away in theater lobbies.
Creators made only eight machines like Ye Olde, the bright
maroon-and yellow belles of the popcorn-making world. Only Ye Olde
is still in business, everyday from Easter until Labor Day, and on
weekends until October.
‘It’s still got the original machinery, just as it came
out of the Factory,’ says Mrs. A. E. Rodman of Clare, wife of
the popper’s owner. ‘The only thing we’ve done to it is
to switch to bottled gas for heat.’
The Rodmans bought the popper in 1948 from its original owner,
who claimed he paid $7,500 for it when it was new.
The popper can chug around on its four-cylinder engine at 15
mph-just about the speed at which popcorn comes perking from its
pot when it’s going full steam. But the Rodmans leave it right
where it is, a lure to passing motorists.
Americans are popping an estimated 350 million pounds a year.
100 pounds of popcorn will fill 1,500 ten-cent boxes. That means
that from Clare to both coasts things are really popping!