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Working the Red Wagon

Melissa Topey • Jun 23, 2014 at 10:00 AM



I worked Thursday afternoon inside a Sandusky icon.

A lot of people would like to see the interior of this downtown Sandusky landmark.

The outside of this place is red and, while it is not that roomy, it produces big inviting smells that draw people.

Any ideas about where I was? Give up?

I worked the Red Wagon Thursday afternoon as a volunteer for the United Way.

I got to go inside the wagon, which I always wanted to do and I got an On The Job article as well, a winning situation for all involved.

It only took about an hour's time.

Jason Werling, assistant managing editor for digital with the Register and popcorn maker extraordinaire, worked alongside me.

Werling taught me the ropes. First step is to turn on the kettle heater. The temperature has to rise to 395 degrees. Once the temperature is there, a person pours in the kernels and popcorn seasoning from a full glass. Then 5 ounces of oil is poured in. If you do it the other way a person will possibly get burned from the steaming oil, Werling said.

His two young sons already had some boxes made up for me.

Looking at the prepared boxes I thought this was going to be an easy On the Job. I was right, it was.

Twice I popped fresh corn after Jason made the first batch.

I sold 14 boxes of popcorn in my shift, meeting some interesting people along the way.

One was a Sandusky family, the Bruni family with five kids in tow.

They bought five boxes.

“How is it? Do I make good popcorn,” I asked.

“This needs more butter,” 7-year old Will suggested.

I noticed he kept eating it.

“This is good. I was hungry,” 10-year old Ben said.

I gave the boy a high five, complete with popcorn still in his hand.

“Are you going to be able to eat that all?” I asked 4-year-old Emma.

“I'll save it and eat more later,” Emma said.

Sandusky residents love the wagon, which has been in Sandusky since 1910.

Terry Everson was out for a walk Thursday afternoon when he stopped by the popcorn Red Wagon, not for popcorn (he did not even have his wallet on him) but to share his thoughts.

“I love the popcorn wagon. It's amazing what they did when they restored it,” Everson said. “I miss it when they pull it out for the winter."

Each box of popcorn is $2 with 80 percent of the money going to the United Way to divide to the organizations supported by them.

The Red Wagon is very important to the United Way and not just as a fundraiser.

“It is something keeps us visible in the community,” said Pamela Brumbaugh, executive director of the United Way. “This wagon has a history here. We have a history here.”

The remaining 20 percent raised from popcorn sales go into an endowment fund controlled by the city that is used for maintenance of the wagon.

I was happy to have had the opportunity to finally work inside the wagon and to help the United Way.

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