Health Department forces La Jolla hardware store to stop giving away free popcorn

Posted at 4:46 PM, May 14, 2018

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A La Jolla hardware store is being forced to remove their popcorn machine they say was used to give the buttery treat to customers for free over the last 25 years.

According to a food inspection report, the Meanley and Son Hardware on the 7700 block of Girard was investigated for serving popcorn without a permit.

"Everybody has had fun with this until now, but we have to obey the law," said co-owner Bob Meanley.

One of the store's owners says the inspection happened after someone complained.

A customer reportedly saw another person reach into the popcorn machine barehanded.

"I’m sorry we can’t continue with the popcorn, but we’ll do it with everything else," added Meanley.

In the report, the inspector said the small Gold Medal brand popcorn maker was seen in use and with “popped popcorn prepared.”

The report forces the hardware store to stop making popcorn and to remove the popcorn machine from the building.

If the shop wants to give away popcorn, according to the health department, they’ll have to go through the permitting process. A process which will also legally require that the store install three compartment sinks. 

The store says staff regularly cleaned the machine and refilled it with popcorn throughout the day for customers to enjoy.

The hardware shop has an extensive history in La Jolla. The store was opened in 1948 when the niece of Ellen B. Scripps along with her husband and son established the business.