|Industry||manufacturing, concessions, food processing equipment, popcorn, popcorn makers|
|Headquarters||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Key people||Charles D. Cretors, CEO
Andrew Cretors, President
C. Cretors & Company is an American manufacturing company, specializing in popcorn machines and other concessions equipment. It was established in 1885 with the invention of the first large-scale commercial popcorn machine to pop corn in oil. C. Cretors & Co. is in Chicago, Illinois and is still owned by the Cretors family, which is in its fifth generation, continuing to build on the innovation of their great-great-grandfather.
1880s through 1890s
Charles Cretors was originally from Lebanon, Ohio, but eventually made his way to Decatur, Illinois, where he opened a bakery and eventually a confectionery shop. He purchased a peanut roaster for his shop to broaden his product line to include freshly roasted peanuts. He was not satisfied with the new machine, so he redesigned it to work better. He moved to Chicago where he felt he could become a commercial success by selling his new machine. He purchased a vendors license in order to test his machine in front of his shop. The license, dated December 2, 1885, marks the inception of C. Cretors & Co.
The new roaster was driven by a small steam engine, which automated the roasting process. By 1893, Cretors had created a steam powered machine that could roast peanuts as well as popcorn in oil. Cretors' machine design offered several advantages over the hand-operated process. Cretors’ machine became the first automated machine that could pop popcorn uniformly in its own seasonings. As a result, the product came out the same way every time. Cretors applied for a patent on his new automated peanut roaster and popcorn popper machine, which was granted in 1893.
A chance meeting happened between Cretors and J. M. Savage, a traveling salesman who purchased a bag of roasted peanuts. Savage was very intrigued with the new peanut roaster and offered to sell it in his territory. Cretors agreed to the proposal, and hired his first salesman.
Charles Cretors took his new popcorn wagon to the Midway of Chicago's Columbian Exposition in 1893 and introduced the new corn product to the public. After a trial period where Cretors gave away samples of his new popcorn product, people began to line up to purchase bags of the hot, buttered popcorn. The smell of roasting peanuts and of hot buttered corn being popped in its seasoning right before the buyers' eyes was enough to attract attention and ultimately sales.
1900s through 1930s
By 1900, Cretors introduced the Special, the first large horse-drawn popcorn wagon. It was an immediate success. Three variations of this wagon were created. This was also the time period that electricity was becoming the wave of the future. Charles Cretors created the first popcorn machine with an electric motor. Charles did what he knew best: to give his customers the best he had to offer and the best they could buy anywhere. As a result, C. Cretors and Company holds one of the oldest active Underwriters Laboratories numbers (EA175) for electrically operated machinery. The electric poppers soon took to market and electricity quickly became the choice of power, as steam power had a long reputation for being complicated and dangerous.
As movie theater attendance grew through the 1920s, Cretors began designing machines that could pop and hold more of the product. Popcorn continued to grow in popularity through the Great Depression due to its low cost.
During World War II
C. Cretors and Company adapted, along with the rest of the world, when faced with World War II. In 1941 the War Production Board issued L-65, stopping all non-war-related production. The US was officially in World War II, and the country was being mobilized for the effort. Cretors went to work for the war effort and became a government supplier. Cretors purchased new production equipment and lined itself up for continued operation, producing aircraft oil line fittings and mechanical radio components among other things. After the war, the company, as did all other manufacturing companies, faced a shortage of materials. Cretors introduced the Super 60, a popcorn machine with an all walnut cabinet. Since then they have continued designing new poppers and features to meet the new needs of theaters, concession stands, and customers.
Cretors has continued to expand their product line to include other food service equipment including warming cabinets, expanded topping and dispensing systems, hot dog, nacho cheese, and caramelizing and nut roasting equipment.
- Small concessions poppers
- Large concessions poppers
- Display and Cornditioner cabinets
- Gourmet retail equipment
- Topping and dispensers
- Hot dog equipment
- Cotton candy
- Ice shavers
In popular culture and the media
On July 7, 1988, the United States Postal Service issued a 16.7 cent postage stamp that featured an illustration of the Cretors 1902 Model of the No. 1 Wagon. It was issued as part of the transportation series. It was done to pay tribute to America's first snack and the machine that made it all possible.
- "Cretors celebrates 125th anniversary", filmjournal.com, 14 January 2010.
- C. Cretors & Company at Wyandot Popcorn Museum
- Sauer, Patrick J. (1 October 2008). "Behind the Scenes: Companies at the Heart of Everyday Life". Inc.com.
- History at Cretors.com
- History of Popcorn - Popper History at popcorn.org
- "Popcorn History". Rosson House Museum. Archived from the original on 23 February 2007.
- Planet Popcorn
- World's Largest Things