Inducted: November 28, 1990
Maria and Homer Martin, of Dover Township, were the first to see the possibilities of popcorn production in Kent County, long before the product, in many forms, captured a major share of the snack food industry.
For Mr. and Mrs. Martin, popcorn was initially a small sideline to their farm operation at the depths of the depression in 1935. That first year, they grew three-quarters of an acre of popcorn. The Martins gradually increased that acreage until they decided to package the popcorn under the name, Martin's Happy Hour Popcorn.
At the beginning, all the corn was naturally dried in cribs until Mr. Martin built a home-made dryer, fuelled with coal and wood. By 1946, 1,200 acres were grown on contract for the Martins; the only producer of popcorn in Canada. A shortage of sugar during World II made popcorn the most readily-available snack food. Lowney's Chocolate, in Montreal, was one of the biggest buyers; Humpty Dumpty was another major customer.
Initially, the popcorn was sold in 100-pound bags, and later, 50-pound bags for convenience. The Martins later located the equipment for packaging popcorn in smaller, shelf-sized bags in the back of a building acquired on Highway 2, east of Chatham. In the front, were a restaurant and a soft ice cream parlour offering the Super Cone, the first of its kind in Chatham.
Mrs. Martin and family members continued to operate the popcorn business after Mr. Martin died in 1959, until it was sold to the oldest son, Romeo, in July, 1960.
Mr. Martin, the son of Marcisse Martin and Bella Bachand, and his wife, the daughter of Pierre Pinsonneault and Anna Daniel left a family of 12 children, 49 grandchildren, and, as of 1990, 72 great-grandchildren.