Iowa Makes the Good Stuff: JOLLY TIME Pop Corn


Americans consume approximately 16 billion quarts of popcorn annually, or about 51 quarts for every man, woman and child in the U.S.  A substantial amount of credit goes to American Pop Corn Company, located in Sioux City, Iowa, and makers of JOLLY TIME popcorn.

In the early days of the 20th Century, popcorn was a rare treat but hardly the accessible product we know today. An early challenge was that too many of the kernels wouldn’t pop, and for many years the only place you could find the tasty treat would be from an occasional street vendor.

Cloyd Smith changed all that in 1914. Unable to sell his popcorn for a price he thought fair, he hauled his harvest by wagon 60 miles from his Sac County farm to his home in Sioux City.  He and his son, Howard, shucked the corn at his home by hand in their basement and sold it themselves.  From that basement, the American Pop Corn Company was born — later becoming the nation’s first popcorn manufacturer and producer of 75,000 pounds of popcorn the first year. The company’s JOLLY TIME brand quickly spread across the country.  By 1916, Smith patented and built a corn crib capable of holding 50,000 bushels and a cleaning facility on the outskirts of Sioux City. In 1925, JOLLY TIME became the first food brand to earn the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

Popcorn was most often packaged in cardboard boxes in the early days, which proved unreliable because the popcorn lost so much moisture the kernels would not pop. Smith and his son, Howard, changed that by canning popcorn to retain moisture and shelf life. In 1927, American Pop Corn began packaging JOLLY TIME in resealable metal pails that preserved the kernels’ moisture and allowed consumers to eat popcorn more often.

The invention of the microwave revolutionized the popcorn industry. Determined to capitalize on this new opportunity, JOLLY TIME was among the first to offer microwavable popcorn.

The American Pop Corn Company has remained a family business throughout its century-long history and hasn’t slowed down! Today, the company’s 180 employees process over 60 million pounds of  JOLLY TIME popcorn annually for customers throughout the U.S. and more than 40 countries around the world.

Iowa Makes the Good Stuff: H.J. Heinz Co.


Iowa is proud to play an integral role in producing the world’s ultimate french fry dipping sauce – ketchup!

H.J. Heinz Co. produces 48 different recipes at one of its largest facilities located in Muscatine, Iowa. Nearly 20 million bottles of ketchup, mustard, steak sauce, gravy and other condiments, as well as four billion single-serve ketchup packets are produced annually in the small Mississippi river town.

The Muscatine plant, established in 1893 and the oldest Heinz facility, originally processed sauerkraut, horseradish and pickles. Today, it is one of the food processing industry’s most modern facilities. The company announced last November an investment of $24.5 million to expand its 830,000 square foot facility and to install technologically advanced equipment. The project will allow Heinz to acquire production of ketchup, gravy and other food products previously manufactured in facilities in Ohio, New Jersey and Ontario. The expansion will add 106 jobs, boosting employment in Muscatine to more than 420 employees.

1910 photo of Heinz factory in Muscatine, Iowa. Courtesy of
1910 photo of Heinz factory in Muscatine, Iowa. Courtesy of

The Muscatine expansion is supported by the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s High Quality Jobs Program and benefits from incentives offered by the city of Muscatine.

The “Iowa Life” is Hard to Beat

One of the things that makes Iowa a great place to run a business, is that it also is a great place before and after work. The state consistently ranks among the best in the country in virtually all quality of life metrics.

The 18-minutes each way it takes Iowans to travel to and from work represents the shortest commute in the nation. Compare that to a typical one hour behind the wheel each way in New York or Chicago. Iowans get to enjoy almost an hour-and-a-half more time every day to spend with the family, catch a ballgame or take a bike ride on one of the largest and most scenic trail networks in the U.S.

An added bonus is Iowa’s low cost of living, which is approximately nine percent below the national average. With the ninth lowest cost of housing in the country, you can find an affordable home in Iowa, often within walking distance on safe streets to and from school.

And speaking of school, Iowa also ranks among the leading states in education. High school graduation rates in Iowa are the top in the U.S.; contributing to the state’s high rankings as one of the best states in the nation to raise a family. In fact, it’s what lured Stan Askren, CEO of HNI Corporation, to pass up job opportunities on the East Coast and in France to bring his family to Muscatine.

In other words, Iowa is a place where you and your employees can have the kind of balance that makes for a productive workplace and plenty of ways and places to recharge.

To learn more about how else Iowa’s are enjoying a high quality of life every day, click here.