Miscellaneous Holcomb & Hoke Items
In an effort to expand their food business, Holcomb & Hoke elected to play off of the well-known Butter-Kist Popcorn brand name with a stand-alone sandwich unit. Unlike conventional sandwich carts, the Butter-Kistwich consists of a toasting grill and steamer for making fresh, hot sandwiches and hot dogs while you wait .
The machine was marketed as an efficiently constructed, simple-to-use, easily cleaned, high-profit maker -- 70 to 80 cents on every dollar taken in! The cabinet model shown here requires 36 x 21 inches of floor space. A countertop model (essentially the same machine but without the storage cabinets) was also produced.
The Butter-Kistwich operates by gas or electricity and is controlled by three switches. These operate the hot spot in the center of the grill, three variations of heat on the grill, and the lights. Woodwork on this machine is the standard mahogany finish, but special finishes could also be ordered. Front and side panels of white vitreous porcelain allow for fast and easy cleaning. Countertop inserts of untarnishable metal helped keep various sandwich toppings and standard condiments within easy reach; while the enclosed, see-through upper shelves often displayed bread and desserts.
Everything needed to operate the unit was supplied by the manufacturer: spatula-type toast turner with stainless steel blade, stainless steel French cook knife, twine-bound sanitary butter brush, menu cards, advertising display card, sandwich bags and napkins. Flashing between "Hungry?" and "Eat a Hot Butter-Kistwich," the light on top was instrumental, Holcomb and Hoke preached, in attracting customers.
Instructional manual distributed with the Holcomb & Hoke Butter-Kistwish Machine (Model 3) shown above. The back of the booklet contains some rather interesting recipes, such as the Boston bean and the currant jelly with English walnuts Kistwiches.
Instructional manual and recipe book distributed with the Holcomb & Hoke Lunch Shop machine.
Written by J. I. Holcomb, Salesology of the Butter-Kist Popcorn and Peanut Machines, copyright 1917, was required reading by every company salesman. The 200+ page book approaches every aspect of selling Holcomb & Hoke machines, from finding prospective buyers to analyzing machine locations. There's even a section devoted to dealing wih the customer who "wants to ask his wife." This book was continually updated over the years and is a must-read for Holcomb & Hoke machine collectors.
Written and autographed by J. I. Holcomb, this Salesology book is a general guide to salesmanship. To this day, it is referenced by many college business schools.
The franchise agreement, this one from Wellston, Ohio, is another rare item. Signed by Fred Hoke, it actually gave no territorial rights whatsoever. The certificate merely states that the operator agrees to sell popcorn and/or peanuts in Butter-Kist bags and boxes, use only pure creamery butter, and abide by cleanliness rules. Other literature states that the salesman is, in fact, forbidden from assigning territorial rights.
This is an early round glass corn holder that was threaded into the base of the unit. "Butter-Kist" is molded into the glass. Receptors like this are very rare, probably because they were broken quite easily. As a result, Holcomb & Hoke replaced it quite early on with the much sturdier square-top corn holder.
We have come across six different panels for the rotating sign atop the Holcomb & Hoke popcorn and peanut machines. We can only assume that if a machine had a peanut vendor, the "horn of plenty" panel illustrating shelled peanuts was displayed. Likewise, if a roaster attachment was ordered, the peanut toaster panel was used.
This "official" store sign is made of porcelain and measures 8"x16." In over 20 years, it is the only one we have managed to come across. Presumably, a shopowner selling Butter-Kist popcorn inside would hang this sign in his front window.
Distributed with the purchase of a new machine, these manuals provided general instructions on installation and operation.
A "Butter-Kist Confidential Information" booklet was included with each machine. Unfortunately, no dates are available to indicate when Holcomb & Hoke did this. Like the Salesology book, it was intended for use by the machine owner/operator. The pages are filled with valuable insight into building and maintaining a profitable business, further demonstrating the huge importance Holcomb & Hoke placed on salesmanship and brand loyalty.
Made of paper and inserted under glass in the drawer of the Grand model machines, this single-sheet notice instructs operators on the method and importance of maintaining a clean machine. It also directs the individual to read the "Confidential Information" booklet (shown above).
This tidbit of marketing wisdom was usually affixed to the inside of a cabinet door or other inconspicuous location on the machine.
Typically found on the inside of a lower-cabinet door panel, this paper sign instructed machine owners to seek the local "fix-it" man for repairs.
Original photos depicting Holcomb & Hoke machines in use.
JUST A NOTE . . .
What does "rare" really mean? Typically it implies uncommon, something that is hard to find. Unfortunately, "rare" is probably the most overused word on eBay and at auctions today.
Our use of the term is simple. We've spent more than 20 years collecting avidly -- scouring antique shows, flea markets and estate sales across the country and, nowadays, accessing the Internet and sites such as eBay continuously. If in that time we have neither seen it nor heard of it, or have done so on a markedly limited basis, then we consider it RARE.
We are always greatly interested in talking to other Holcomb & Hoke collectors as well as those with a general interest in popcorn memorabilia. In keeping with the tradition of a museum, our goal is to share information, not hoard it.