Filed Under Food

Humphrey Popcorn

Imagine a century-old northeast Ohio company that's literally "up to its ears" in ears – popcorn, that is. While the Humphrey family name naturally evokes vivid memories of Cleveland's bygone days at Public Square and Euclid Beach Park, a piece of that legacy lives on at The Humphrey Company in Warrensville Heights, where Humphrey popcorn and taffy are still being made today.

From growing their own popping corn on their farm in Wakeman, Ohio, right down to the ingredients and vintage equipment, Dudley Humphrey Jr., his wife Betsy and a handful of dedicated employees are keeping the taste and smells of the old Euclid Beach Park alive and continuing a fourth-generation family business.

Dudley's grandfather, Dudley Sherman Humphrey II was in the popcorn business in the late 1800s. He and his father, Dudley Sherman Humphrey I had invented a new type of popcorn popper, which seasoned the corn as it popped. They sold the machines themselves until sometime in the 1880s or early 1890s, when they got into the retail popcorn business. Beginning in June 1893, the family opened popcorn stands throughout Cleveland, including one in the corner of May's Drug Store on the heavily trafficked Public Square.

During this time, Euclid Beach was just starting out, and Humphrey II had a popcorn stand there. In 1901, he bought out the original owners and changed the park's image by creating a family-friendly atmosphere that made Euclid Beach a success until it closed in 1969. Among the park's top concessions were Humphrey popcorn balls and their signature candy kisses.

After Euclid Beach closed, the Humphreys refocused on popcorn. The family had been growing its own supply of corn for popping on its Wakeman farm, which they had repurchased in the 1920s. Today, the farm has expanded to more than 1,000 acres, capable of providing a year's supply to the Humphrey Company, much to the delight of munchie lovers, young and old.

Images

Euclid Beach Popcorn Stand, ca. 1920s Workers stand ready to sell popcorn balls, peanuts, and taffy at Euclid Beach Park in this photograph from the 1920s. Notice the taffy pull being operated on the second floor. Source: Image courtesy of the Humphrey Family Date: ca. 1920
Pure Cream Candy Harvey John Humphrey (at left, wearing a hat), son of Euclid Beach and Humphrey Popcorn founder Dudley Humphrey, poses with several others in front of the pure cream candy stand at Euclid Beach Park. Source: Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections
Public Square, 1905 The Humphrey Popcorn shop was once located at a busy spot on Public Square, next to May's Drugstore. This is now the site of the Terminal Tower. Source: Image courtesy of the Humphrey Family Date: 1905
Soda at Euclid Beach When the Humphrey family purchased Euclid Beach they banned the sale of alcohol at the park, going as far as to prevent intoxicated people from entering the grounds. Instead of beer, the park sold various flavors of soda from beverage stands such as the one seen here. Source: Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Division of Special Collections. Cleveland Press Collection.
Harvey Humphrey, 1899 At age 16 in 1899, Harvey Humphrey, son of Dudley, works the popcorn popper at his father's Public Square stand. Humphrey would go on to become president of the Humphrey Company after his father's death in 1933. Source: Image courtesy of the Humphrey Family Date: 1899
Taffy Machine, ca. 1920s Under the watchful eye of a candymaker, sweet morsels of taffy are shaped and wrapped in a stand at Euclid Beach during the 1920s. Source: Image courtesy of the Humphrey Family Date: ca.1920
Public Square, 1899 A view of the Humphrey Popcorn stand on Public Square in 1899. Notice the young girl on the extreme right dressed in finery and peering at the treats on display. Source: Image courtesy of the Humphrey Family Date: 1899
Horse-Drawn Popcorn Cart, ca. 1890s Have cart, will travel! Humphrey Popcorn takes to the road, circa 1890s. Source: Image courtesy of the Humphrey Family Date: ca. 1890

Location

Metadata

Gail Greenberg and Diane Rolfe, “Humphrey Popcorn,” Cleveland Historical, accessed August 13, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/index.php/items/show/273.