Clarence Welch’s business was popping and his customers surely had a jolly time

The Popcorn King’s business was Gulfport’s only sidewalk store in 1933.
The Popcorn King’s business was Gulfport’s only sidewalk store in 1933. Photo courtesy of Paul Jermyn

According to a Nov. 11, 1933, Daily Herald newspaper article, Clarence Welch, the self-dubbed Popcorn King, was doing a booming business in a tiny sidewalk shop at 14th Street and 25th Avenue.

Within the glass-enclosed 5 by 8 foot store Welch operated a popcorn and peanut business with a new electric corn popping machine and peanut roaster.

As shown on the box pictured here, Welch used the Jolly Time Popcorn brand of buttered popcorn, which he touted as the “world’s choicest.” Welch popped corn several times a day, and it is likely that anyone within the “smelling” range succumbed to the aroma and bought a box. His fresh roasting peanuts would have drawn many a customer also.

In addition to plain popcorn and peanuts, Welch produced Korn-Kandy using his own candy recipe with different flavors including coconut, peppermint, molasses, caramel, maple, orange, lemon, black walnut, and vanilla. He also made some peanut candy. These unusual products were sold “encased” in cellophane bags.

According to the article, the Pop Corn King’s business expanded with a new truck that traveled to ball games and every public gathering to sell cold drinks, popcorn, peanuts, and his other products. It seems that this “traveling store” was a novelty at that time. The young entrepreneur’s brother, Emmet, helped him with his business.