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SIOUX CITY | For 100 years, Jolly Time Pop Corn, the nation's first brand-name popcorn, has called Sioux City home.
Company founder Cloid Smith harvested the first ears of popcorn in the fall of 1914. As legend has it, Smith got into a dispute with a grain buyer over the price for his crop. So, he and his son, Howard, hauled their corn to Sioux City, where they shelled, cleaned and packaged the kernels in the basement of their home.
Cloid Smith started out by personally selling Jolly Time to small grocers and street cart vendors.
Today, Jolly Time products are sold in all 50 states and 40 foreign countries. Unlike its top competitors, the company remains family- owned and operated. First cousins Garry and Carlton Smith are the fourth generation to head the business, which maintains its corporate offices, grain storage facilities and microwave popcorn plants in Sioux City's Leeds neighborhood.
For decades, large popcorn cribs bearing the Jolly Time name were visible to motorists along Highway 75.
In the 1920s, Jolly Time revolutionized the industry with the invention of the first hermetically sealed cans, which preserved the kernel's moisture and increased its quality, leading to the company's well-known "Guaranteed to Pop" slogan.
One of the first brands to introduce microwave popcorn in the 1980s, Jolly Time re-energized its brand in 1997 with the launch of "Blast O' Butter." The heater-style buttery flavor quickly became the top-selling microwave brand.
In most recent years, Jolly Time has seized on the demand for more health-conscious microwave popcorn. In 2008, Jolly Time's Healthy Pop 94 percent Fat Free products won an exclusive endorsement from Weight Watchers. And last year, Jolly Time rolled out microwave varieties made with Smart Balance's unique blend of heart-healthy cooking oils.