Jolly Time cribs

A backhoe scoops splintered timbers from three corn cribs torn down at American Pop Corn's Sioux City site on Friday. The building had stood empty since 2006, the last year the makers of the Jolly Time brand harvested ear corn.

Dave Dreeszen, Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY | Splintered timbers laid in a giant heap at American Pop Corn Friday.

The aged wood was all that remained of the Jolly Time maker's last three corn cribs, a symbol of a bygone era.

"It's all a big pile of wood now," said Scott Smith, who grew up in Leeds and watched cranes remove the buildings Thursday and Friday. "There used to be more." 

For decades, freshly harvested ears of popcorn were stored in the slated cribs, which allowed air to circulate.

"It was how you just to dry popcorn," said American Pop Corn President Garry Smith, the fourth generation of his family to run the business founded in 1918.

Garry Smith, who is not related to Scott Smith, said his great-grandfather designed the special patented cribs, which promoted a cool breeze, even on a hot summer day.

Even with the introduction of combines that separated the corn from the cobs in the field, Jolly Time continued to contract with farmers to pick corn. At one time, Garry Smith said, the quality of ear corn was superior to combined corn, he said.

That gap eventually closed. Ear corn, meanwhile, remained more labor intensive.

"Probably because of my dad, we held on to ear popcorn longer than any other company and probably a few years more than we should have," Garry Smith said of his late father, Wrede. "We finally just gave up on it because we couldn't find any old fashioned corn pickers."

Jolly Time growers harvested ear corn for the last time in 2006.

Five other cribs had previously been torn down at the company's complex in Leeds.

The final three cribs demolished this week dated to the 1960s. Visible to motorists traveling on Business Highway 75, the cribs also served as a billboard, with a large Jolly Time logo affixed to the side.

The timbers are in the process of being hauled away to a landfill near Jackson, Neb.

Garry Smith said the land where the cribs stood initially will be used for parking. Eventually, the company would like to build a warehouse there to provide more storage space for its new microwave popcorn plant.

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