Catlin's Own Inventor
Charles V. Champion, Sr. invented the "Tostwich," a combination electric toaster and sandwich maker, before 1920. Mr. Champion applied for a patent for his Tostwich on May 26, 1924 which was granted and registered March 3, 1925.
Champion also produced corn popping machines and received a patent on June 30, 1925, for display cases.
Mr. Champion and his brother-in-law, J.W. McIntyre, made the first products but demand forced the company to leave Catlin and make its business headquarters in Danville.
An article in the Danville Commercial-News of Wednesday, February 25, 1925, described the expansion of the business.
On August 8, 1929 the Catlin Manufacturing Co. was incorporated by the State of Illinois and the document was signed by William J. Stratton, Secretary of State.
In the Museum collection we have:
• the 1929 charter;
• two patents (one for the Tostwich, dated March 3, 1925 and another for display cases, dated June 30, 1925);
• six original catalogues of C. V. Champion & Co. (showing all models of the pop corn machines and some of the Tostwich) plus one catalogue of 76 testimonial letters praising the C.V. Champion Co.;
• a brochure for the Tostwich showing Model No. 1 (cost $22.50) and Model No. 2 (a double model costing $42.50) which could make approximately 200 sandwiches per hour;
• a Tostwich recipe book;
• and several Tostwich toasters.
In 1931, Mr. Charles V. Champion was appointed Postmaster at Catlin.
Mr. Champion died suddenly on February 14, 1936 a few minutes before he was to have watched his son play basketball.
Charles Virgil Champion, suddenly collapsed and died in the Catlin High School Gym shortly after purchasing his ticket and proceeding to the balcony. His son, Lloyd, an eighth grade student was to have played in a game preliminary to the high school game. All games were cancelled.
His obituary continued: Mr. Champion had been in good health, and was looking forward with usual eagerness to the games. He was a loyal supporter of the Catlin squad, and also was keenly interested [in] the Catlin Grade School team.
Several years ago he invented a pop corn vending machine, and built a factory in Danville for its manufacture. For some time many men were employed in the factory, which subsequently was moved to Chicago after being purchased by Chicago men.
Mr. Champion was born Jan. 13, 1879 in Catlin, son of Francis M. and Jane Church Champion, and lived all of his [life] in Vermilion County.
Besides the son, Lloyd, the widow, Mrs. Mary Wakeland Champion, another son, Charles Virgil Champion, Jr., Indianapolis, and a daughter, Mrs. Irene Louck, Catlin, survive. He also has a bachelor brother, Lloyd, Los Angeles, and three sisters, Mrs. Anna Jones and Mrs. J. W. McIntyre, both of Catlin, and Mrs. Fred Stoesiger, Sioux City, Iowa. His first wife, Mrs. Burda Ruby Champion, died Feb. 13, 1919.
He was a member of the Catlin Methodist Church, Masonic Blue Lodge at Catlin, and Danville Consistory.
The body was taken to Berhalter Funeral Home, Danville, and was returned to the residence that Saturday afternoon.
Funeral services were at 2 p.m. Monday at Catlin M.E. Church, with the Rev. R. Wroughton, pastor, officiating. Burial was in Oakridge Cemetery, Catlin.
Sources and materials (Catalogues, charter, photos, etc.), newspaper articles, letters, E. Ruth Martin, Ben Louck Estate, Mary Jane Champion and Mrs. John (Josephine) Vitkevic.
The sign on the window of the store reads "The Home of the Champion Corn Popper, ALL ELECTRIC."
Interior of a store with a busy soda fountain. Note the corn popper on the center case.