Lot Number
831
language

c. 1910 Cretors Popcorn and Peanut Wagon

Sold For $154,000

Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.

RM | Sotheby's - THE MILHOUS COLLECTION 24 - 25 FEBRUARY 2012


Chassis No.
N/A

Model D. Solid axles with transverse full-elliptic leaf spring front suspension and longitudinal semi-elliptic rear springs. Wheelbase: 100.5"

• Model D Wagon with full equipment and signage

• Excellent condition and presentation

Charles Cretors, a Decatur, Illinois confectioner, was disappointed with a steam-powered peanut roaster he had purchased. An inventive soul, he set out to make a better one, which was operating by 1891. Traveling salesman J.M. Savage convinced Cretors that a wide market existed for roasted nuts. Cretors devised a steam-powered machine that would roast 12 pounds of peanuts and 20 pounds of coffee, as well as pop corn and bake chestnuts. As a fully-mechanized unit, it provided more consistent quality than roasting by hand, and the operation itself provided entertainment for the customer. At the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, he transfixed the public with the smell and taste of delectable snacks provided by his hand-drawn cart.

As a former sign painter, Cretors recognized the importance of an attractive place of business, and at his confectionary he had improved customer traffic by putting the candy maker in the store window. His horse-drawn popcorn and peanut vending wagons, which debuted around 1900, embodied both these concepts. Cretors used steam for roasting and popping, which gave a much better product than open flame designs. Moreover, the steam kept the roasted and popped products warm, and a small steam engine rotated the roasting drum. An acknowledged showman, Cretors put the steam engine in the window, where its action would delight small children and fascinate adults.

Cretors vending wagons were painted in bright colors and lettered in gold leaf. All trim was polished nickel, and glass was bevel-edged. The peanut and popcorn signage comprised bevel-edged mirrors with reverse etched decoration and painted letters. Cretors offered a small Model C vending wagon and a larger, two-horse Model D, the type offered here.

Painted in red with decorative gold striping, this Model D wagon has contrasting yellow wheels with red pinstripes. A green and white canvas awning rolls out on the vending side. At the front, the raised steam popper spills fresh popcorn into a large bin behind glass, from which it is dispensed to customers. On the far side is the peanut roasting drum, and opposite, next to the vending window, is the small steam engine. Steam is also piped through the roof to operate a whistle.

In the case of these popcorn wagons, the popularity of the automobile soon dictated truck-based vending. The Cretors machinery was often found on the back of a Ford Model AA truck, and by that time Cretors had moved from steam to electric roasters. The popularity of popcorn in movie theaters ensured a lasting business for roasting equipment, and C. Cretors and Company remains a cornerstone of the hot snack food industry today.

An excellent example of the iconic mobile popcorn vendor of yesteryear, this Cretors wagon comes with all its accoutrements and equipment for operation. A self-contained concession stand, it can be used entirely for show or could be put to full commercial use. Whatever its intended purpose, this is certainly one of the finest examples we have ever had the pleasure of offering.


Addendum

Please note this vehicle will be sold on a Bill of Sale only.


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