Paul Newman's Dunbar Model 1911 Popcorn and Peanut Concession Wagon
In 1982 Paul Newman wanted to add popcorn to his salad dressing and spaghetti sauce then being sold under his Newman's Own Brand. All his profits from these sales were being given to various charities. He talked to Wyandot Popcorn Co. and others about his plans. Actually he tested over 50 different varieties from several companies before he decided in early 1984 that Wyandot had the best popcorn for his glass jar packed Newman's Own Popcorn. Labels, and marketing tools, posters, point-of-sale pieces were prepared, and in August of 1984 in Westport Conn., the largest media food announcement in history occurred. Over 70 different media were represented in that festive affair. It took an entire afternoon with interviews of Paul, Joan, as well as his partner in the enterprise, A. E. Hoetchner, and his Wife Ursula, who later became the daily driving force to the success of the total program.
Paul called Wyandot and wanted to acquire an Antique Wagon to promote his popcorn at the media event and later at Super Markets and in Central Park In NYC. We knew Dennis Koepsell owned the best preserved Dunbar Antique Wagon in Milwaukee, Wisc.. Paul arranged to rent the wagon for the media event, and then later bought the wagon from Dennis. Getting it in Central Park was quite another thing. He used all his prestige and influence and finally succeeded by donating all the profit to the disadvantaged children of the inner city. As seen in the large photo, Paul, Hoetchner, and the Parks Commissioner kicked it off just across from the Plaza Hotel at the corner of Central Park.
A horse trailer was built especially for the antique to keep it safe from vandals when not in use. Paul paid Mr. Koepsell over $20,000 plus the cost of the trailer. Despite this precaution, major vandalism occurred, and a local firm was hired to repair the damage. They really were not qualified, and the results ruined the appearance and cost much extra to restore later on by Wyandot Popcorn Museum.
In 1987, Paul contacted Wyandot with a desire to sell the antique. It was bought by George Brown, and then two years later donated to the Museum. At that time the Museum was located in the Perry Bed & Breakfast on S. State Street, and the large antiques such as the Model TT Truck and the Dunbar were stored in George K. Brown's barn.
When the Museum moved to Heritage Hall in 1989, the building was remodeled to accommodate these large vehicles with two large overhead doors, and a portable ramp.
When Newman acquired the Dunbar antique, three large crates of original operating parts were offered in case anyone wanted to fully restore the wagon to its original condition. Wyandot suggested these parts be retained by the Popcorn Museum, so they would not be lost in New York City. Years later the Dunbar was gifted to the Wyandot Popcorn Museum so the crates of dry popper, boiler, butter applicator etc. were available for restoration.
Note the unique Dry-Popper & Butter Applicator. The striping was done for us by John Cornelius, who normally striping for the Houghton Sulky Company in Marion.
A very different style Butter-Applicator was invented by Mr. Dunbar. It is a revolving wheel, which added a thin layer of butter to every kernel which rolled across it during the tumbling from the revolving Dry-Popper. Mr. Dunbar worked for the ORIGINAL Charles D. Cretors and did not agree with his employer who felt popcorn should be popped in a bath of oil.
The Dunbar Company still exists in S. Elgin Illinois, and makes popcorn manufacturing equipment for retail and small factory installations for dry-popping and caramel manufacturing. None of the original founding family is involved with the present ownership of Dunbar & Co.