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.