(La Porte, IN) - He moved to a home along Lake Michigan after inventing the world-famous Jiffy Pop popcorn in LaPorte. The late Frederick C. Mennen will have his name go up on a bridge close to where his popcorn brand used to roll off the assembly lines.
The LaPorte County Commissioners on Wednesday, September 1, approved a committee’s recommendation to have Mennen’s name on the bridge on Fail Road over the Norfolk Southern tracks north of Indiana 2.
Mennen was a resident of Long Beach when he passed away in 1991. He was 62.
LaPorte County Historian Bruce Johnson said Mennen was an industrialist, chemist, and inventor born to Russian immigrants in LaPorte.
“He played a major role in the LaPorte community from heavy metal manufacturing to the food packaging industry,” Johnson said.
In 1958, with $6,000 in capital and help from a small number of local investors, Mennen developed a pan-like metal container featuring a wire handle. Inside the pan were kernels of popcorn along with cooking oil. The pan was covered by a flimsy aluminum cover that grew into a balloon shape as the popcorn popped from the heat on the burner of a stove.
“Within one year, seven million packages of Jiffy Pop were sold. Mennen Food Products soon had a production line of 200 workers,” Johnson said.
In 1963, Johnson said Mennen Food Products was incorporated into American Home Products, a corporation affiliated with Chef Boyardee Foods. A new and larger industrial complex was then built on Fail Road to meet the growing demand for what became one of the most known well-known, and heavily advertised snacks for generations.
Mennen later moved to New York to operate a division of American Home Foods, Corporation, then returned where he founded U.S. Packaging Corporation on Clay Street in LaPorte. 29-years of his life were spent at home on Lakeshore Drive, where his wife, Rosemary, continued to live until her passing in 2018.
Mennen had patents for other inventions like an at-home testing kit for gonorrhea.