The story of Charles Cretors is the traditional one of a man building a better mousetrap, or in this case, a better peanut roaster.

In 1893, Cretors patented the first automated peanut roaster and popcorn popper. Realizing that some sort of action would help to attract customers, Cretors utilized a small steam engine to turn the roaster and poppers. The mechanical “Tosty Rosty Man” seen at the popper was present in even the early horse-drawn Cretors machines.

Built on a 1922 Ford Model T, a vehicle such as this model could have been seen at any tourist destination such as Maine’s Old Orchard Beach, selling its wares. The lights and canopy suggest an air of permanence, evidence that the wagon may have been driven to a specific location to sell all day rather than selling on the go, as with an ice-cream truck or milk delivery truck.

Specifications: 20 horsepower, 176.6 cubic inch, in-line four-cylinder engine. Transmission: Two-speed planetary.

Cost new: $3,000.

Accession no. 2005G001

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