1919 Cretor Popcorn Wagon

The museums popcorn wagon has delighted children and adults in the Champaign-Urbana community for more than 75 years.  


The popcorn popping part of this vehicle was purchased from the Cretor Company in 1919 by Henry Sansone, then in Bloomington, Illinois. Henry was born February 23, 1900.  The wagon was originally horse drawn however, around 1921, Mr. Sansone had mounted the wagon on a Model T Ford chassis. In 1940, the Model T engine and chassis gave out and the popcorn wagon was mounted on the chassis of a 1940 Chevolet, which is what you see today.  Mr. Sansone continued popping corn and selling ice cream and sodas at various locations in Champaign, such as at movie theaters, or on Neil Street in front of Kresge’s 5 and 10 Cent Store for more than 40 years with his wife Lucille (Boots) until 1974. He passed away in June 1976.   Shortly before his death, the wagon was sold to Joan Macomberin 1974, who popped corn on campus, especially Sixth Street and outside Memorial Stadium on U of I football weekends.  


In 1977, the truck was purchased by the Champaign County Historical Museum, where it remains in operation at various community events.


Since its original purchase, the truck has undergone a series of restorations. In 1982, the unsafe steam popper was replaced with an electric one made by the original Cretor Company. After the replacement of the popper, the Champaign -Urbana Mass Transit District maintenance workers gave the truck a 1967 Chevrolet engine, transmission and rear axle. They also gave it new power steering and brakes.


Photo History of the Sansone Popcorn Wagon

Champaign County 

History Museum


102 East University Avenue

Champaign, Illinois 61820

phone: 217-356-1010

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