Illinois Local 49 Celebrates 125 Years with Popcorn Pioneer

Union Steward – Hector Castaneda – points to IAM “Union Made” label

In the exclusive world of popcorn popping machines, the name C. Cretors & Co. has held iconic status for more than a century. Their steel and glass machines are still made today in Chicago, IL, with the help of 40 members of Local 49, who recently took part in a celebration of the company’s 125th anniversary

“We are proud to be a fifth generation, family-owned business that still manufacturers quality machinery in Chicago with the partnership of the IAMAW,” said Cretors Executive Administrative Assistant Margie Heffernan, in a message to District 8 DBR Carl Gallman.

“Every C. Cretors machine ships with an IAM union label on it,” said District 8 Business Representative Patrick Camardo. “We’re proud of our members and our good relationship with C. Cretors. We wish them continued success now and into the future.”

The founder of the company, Charles Cretors, hatched the idea to build a steam powered machine that would pop corn in hot oil, rather than in baskets over an open flame, which was the technique favored by street vendors.  

Introduced to the public at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Cretors machine was an instant hit.  The steam-driven popcorn cart allowed vendors to move to where the crowds were gathering, in front of theaters, to the ballparks and fairgrounds. Cretors wagons were also built to roast peanuts, bake chestnuts, hold drinks and more.

Click here to view members of Local 49 at work at C. Cretors & Co.