Jolly Time popcorn began in the basement of the Cloid H. Smith home in the year 1914. At the time popcorn was not available in most grocery stores. A grocer who wished to sell popcorn would have to buy it in bulk or on the cob.
Mr. Smith began his business career in Odebolt, Iowa. He was at different times a druggist, an inventor of veterinary medicines and hand lotions, an oil driller in Texas, and the owner of the first telephone company in Odebolt. He moved to Sioux City in 1912 and sold his business to the Bell Telephone Company. With part of the money from the sale of his company he purchased farm land north of Odebolt. This area was known for the popcorn it raised.
He decided he would produce and package a high quality popcorn that would be consistent from one bag to the next. The Smiths picked the popcorn from their farm and moved it by wagon to Sioux City. In their home at 2727 Nebraska the family shelled, cleaned, and graded the corn. The business was a success. In the first year the family sold over 75,000 pounds of popcorn and the name Jolly Time became well known.
Within a few months the business moved out of the basement and into the family garage in the backyard. Within a year a storage building had been built to hold 500,000 pounds of corn. The Smiths soon realized that popcorn aged and dried for a year popped better than new corn; and in 1915 a larger building was built to provide ventilation to help the corn dry.
Over the years the company has been at the forefront of innovation in the popcorn industry. The company was the first to package popcorn in metal cans to preserve its freshness. They have also sold it in tubs children could use as toys when empty and in cellophane bags so people could see the quality of their product.
They provided high quality popcorn to vendors to increase their profits. They sold popping oils, salt and cartons to the vendors. During the early thirties, they sold popcorn machines on their radio program to people all over the United States for one dollar. People had little money due to the depression but many could afford the dime popcorn cost for a snack for the family. Jolly Time constantly strived to increase their business through innovation advertising campaigns.
With the death of Cloid Smith in 1939, his son Howard took over the responsibilities of the company. Following Cloid's wishes, the company sold only 10 ounce tins under the Jolly Time name. The company continued strong growth throughout the 1030s and 1940s.
In 1939, the American Pop Corn Company sold 75,000 cases of Jolly Time cans. By 1949 the number of cases sold had increased more than six fold to 500,000 cases. A new design was developed for the can and was used from 1942 until 1972.
In 1953, the company experienced a devastating flood shortly after moving to their brick headquarters located in the Leeds area of the city. The flood destroyed the corn and the storage cribs and nearly all of the businesses records. The family were leaders in the push to channelize the Floyd River to eliminate further flooding.
Now in the fourth generation of the Smith family, the company continues to be a leader in the field. With constant innovation and research, the family has kept the company vital. Through the widespread use of microwaves and medical experts endorsing popcorn for its high fiber, sales have continued to grow. By 1988 Americans ate 12.9 billion quarts of pop corn.