Terry’s Honey-Dew Popcorn
It was one of many Savin Rock Icons: Terry’s sold popcorn, Honey-Dew popcorn, cotton candy, and candy apples. If you are a West Havener aged thirty or more, chances are you remember Terry’s popcorn “bricks,” which were sold in the Savin Rock area for decades. Available in chocolate, strawberry or coconut, this product was a must for anyone visiting “Old Savin Rock” back in the day.
Some of the stories routinely presented on this page are easy to research; others can take time. I had been looking for detailed help concerning the Terry’s story for the last ten years, when suddenly, and all at once, that help appeared in the persons of Meari Avery, John Jarvie and Art McGray.
Terry’s was established in 1937, by Andrew “Terry” Terriciano and his wife Anna Terriciano, and had a stand on Beach Street near Palace Street. Terry’s popcorn was also brought to and sold at local fairs in the late 1940s and 1950s. At one such event, Millie Avery, who worked for Terry for over a decade, saw a display of cotton candy that was made in Belchertown, Massachusetts, and brought the idea back to Terry. Bob Shaw, Millie’s husband, was Terry’s driver and right-hand man in those early days.
Meari Avery recalls the many hours of her childhood spent in the Terry’s stand with her mom, who was working and visiting “Uncle Terry and Auntie Anna,” her Godmother.
Terry’s products were also sold thru a number of Savin Rock restaurants: Phyllis’, Jimmies, Jims, Turks and Chicks. During that period—the 1950s—the market for Terry’s products was primarily limited to strictly Savin Rock.
After the demise of Savin Rock, Terry’s business was sold to Leo J. Scilla, and operated from a small facility on Front Street. By now Terry, aging and and an employee of the company, provided assistance and advice to the new owner.
Late in the 1970s, Art McGray worked for Terry’s as a driver and a line worker for the company. By this time, the old Terry’s stand and the Savin Rock amusement area were just a memory, so Art would deliver Terry’s products to Pegnataro’s, Klarides, mom-and-pop stores, and similar outlets.
Art McGray recalls the process vividly: The corn was popped in an industrial popcorn popper. Then the product was placed into a 30-gallon copper kettle, where sugar and flavoring were added (along with shredded coconut as needed). Next the mix was poured into a large metal form where it was levelled off with a sort of wooden squeegee. The margins of this large form were marked with cutting guides to ensure uniform-sized bricks; the cuts were made with a sort of large pizza cutter. Next the bricks were packaged in cellophane and labelled appropriately.
At that time (about 1978), John Jarvie, fresh out of school, worked next door in a welding shop. From time to time, he would be called upon to braze patches into the well-worn copper kettles. When Terry’s was cooking their bricks, John recalls that the aroma was pervasive and heavenly. And when he delivered the repaired kettles back to Terry’s he could usually expect to return to his shop with a large bag full of sample popcorn–for Terry’s was well-known for their generosity.
Time passes: Terry’s has departed Savin Rock as well as Front Avenue, and they have ceased to exist. But like most of Savin Rock, they and their products continue to be remembered fondly by generations of West Haveners.