Drawn by horse, solid axles with transverse fully elliptical leaf spring front suspension and longitudinal semi-elliptical rear springs. Wheelbase: 100.5 in.
- Iconic antique Cretors vending wagon
- Vintage Cretors steam engine
- Modern electric corn popper—ready to pop!
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. About this time, he moved to Chicago, where 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, and also pop corn and bake chestnuts. As a fully mechanized unit, it provided more even quality than roasting by hand, and the operation itself provided entertainment for the customer. At Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition, Cretors transfixed the public with the smell and taste of delectable snacks provided by his hand-drawn cart.
As a former sign painter, Cretors also 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, and went them one better with mechanized operations. 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 alike.
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.
This Cretors Model D has been restored from an original wagon, but it has been upgraded for more convenient operation. The steam-roasting equipment has been removed and replaced with a modern electric corn popper. The steam engine is a genuine Cretors No. 2 oscillating engine, as used in the improved No. 2 wagon. Although it does not provide the original function, it performs admirably in the secondary role of the original Cretors machine: attention-getting and amusement.
All is in good condition—and just as striking as a fully steaming Cretors wagon. It is ready to pop and impress at one’s carnival, fair, or backyard party.