Along the way: Ohio's world-famous popcorn museums

Along the way: Ohio's world-famous popcorn museums

An antique popcorn museum is displayed in a circus tent at the Wyandot Popcorn Museum.

An antique popcorn museum is displayed in a circus tent at the Wyandot Popcorn Museum. (Photo courtesy of Marion Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.)

Heading along Ohio’s Interstates and limited access highways, we sometimes forget there are amazing attractions at some of the exits.

Just off US Route 23 is Wyandot Popcorn Museum, located in downtown Marion. Famous for collecting and restoring the world’s largest collection of popcorn antiques and peanut roasters, the collection will fascinate anyone interested in antiques, collectables, and wonderful memories of another time. Two examples are more than 100 years old.

But the museum is also great fun for anyone who loves this healthy snack and devours it while watching a movie. When popcorn vendors were selling it on the sidewalk to movie-goers, theater owners invited them inside and split the profits. It wasn’t long before the profit-seeking theater owners set up their own popcorn machines and concession stands inside their lobbies.

Ohioans are fortunate to have a second popcorn museum as well — The J.H. Fentress Antique Popcorn Museum. Located in Holland, just off Interstate 475 west of Toledo, this interesting and fun museum features antique popcorn machines and peanut roasters, as well as a wealth of advertising memorabilia, popcorn bags, boxes, and tins.

Already intrigued by the mechanics and automated ability of a century-old popcorn machine he bought while still working, Jim Fentress became interested in all things popcorn-related when he retired in 2006. As many museum owners know, when a hobby outgrows your home, you start a museum.

So the next time you are staring down that freeway, check out what’s at the next exit. It may turn out to be a pleasant surprise!