The tantalizing smell of freshly made popcorn filling a movie theatre is something you can thank Sam the Popcorn Man for.
Samuel M. Rubin first saw popcorn being made in Oklahoma City around 1930. When he returned to New York, he began selling the buttery treat at concessions stands he ran at the Empire State Building, Central Park and the Westbury Music Fair on Long Island.
Although popcorn became a staple snack at movie theaters during the Great Depression, Rubin was one of the first to sell fresh popcorn inside the theatres because he thought the warm, salty smell would entice buyers. For the next 60 years, he and his partner Marty Winter provided the concession stand refreshments to the major movie chains in the New York metropolitan area, including RKO, Brandt and Loews.
Rubin was always interested in snack food. He sold pretzels at age 6 and took a job filling vending machines in movie theaters when he was 12. He developed movie-size candy bars and boxes, which could be sold for $1.50 instead of $0.35. Rubin also served in the Army during World War II, survived a murder attempt by a rival in his company and lived through an armed robbery in which the thief put a gun to his head.
Rubin died on Feb. 5. Cause of death was not released. He was 85.