Popcorn, Peanuts, but no Crackerjacks from Charles Cretors’ hand-drawn vending cart at the 1893
Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He proved a mobile vendor could do as well or better than a storefront.
His first horse-drawn Cretors wagon debuted around 1900, and it mechanized much of the process.
The small steam engine, which rotated the roasting drum, was put in the window, where it amused
both the young and old alike. The Model A sidewalk wagon, introduced in 1905, put these principles
into a more maneuverable package for smaller spaces and had some unique features.
A Cretors No. 1 horizontal steam engine stirred the popcorn, and, when engaged by a clutch, operated
the peanut roaster. This was similar to other Cretors wagons, but unique to the Model A was a red-and
-white roller curtain extension awning. A gum and candy case over the peanut roasting cylinder allowed
for the sale of more products, thus broadening the customer base. A 500 candlepower hollow-wire
gasoline lantern, with inverted mantle, lit up the stand at night. There was also a swiveling auxiliary
gas torch on the engine bed plate, which acted as a “flashlight” of the period. The glass all around was
French plate beveled glass.
All for $975 in 1918
Robert Pearson of Pearson & Company, the Cretors registrar, reports that only five Model A Sidewalk
wagons survive. The most deluxe of hand-drawn vending wagons, the Model A cost three times the price
of a basic model. In contrast to the larger Cretors wagons, the Model A is much smaller and easier to
maneuver; the operator stands beside it, not inside. Fully operational, it is ready to roast, pop, and
The owner of this wagon spent 20 years lovingly and accurately restoring this wagon to its original glory
with original parts. He died and his widow put it up for auction. COUGHbitchCOUGH.
Sold for $60,500.