Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Along Highway 52: About that popcorn & cheese June 5, 2017

SIGNAGE INTERESTS ME. For many reasons. The graphics. The message. The marketing influence. The persuasive power.

Occasionally signage can confuse or present an unclear message.

Let’s consider three signs along U.S. Highway 52, a high traffic four-lane that I sometimes travel between Cannon Falls and Rochester. On my most recent trek along this roadway, I photographed two signs by Pine Island.



The first grabbed my visual attention because of the oversized popcorn kernels scattered on the ground below a popcorn billboard and the single word, Newt’s. What is this sign advertising? A popcorn place? Not quite. Newt’s does have, according to online reviews, some of the tastiest popcorn around. But Newt’s is a beer and burger place that also serves popcorn.

Digging deeper into the popcorn pile, I read on Newt’s Facebook page that the business pops an average of 20,000 pounds (or 10 tons) of popcorn kernels in a year at its north, south and downtown Rochester locations. Now that’s a lot of popcorn. I wonder how much beer is served.



The second sign I photographed promotes a cheese mart. But if you look closely, you will see that the Pine Cheese Mart no longer sells cheese. That’s right. Tacked onto the bottom of the sign is the notation that you can purchase beer and wine making supplies at Von Klopp Brew Shop, once also a marketer of cheese.

When the northbound highway access to the cheese mart was closed, the business took such a hit that it stopped selling cheese and closed its restaurant and gift shop, according to the business website. I wonder how many travelers catch the cheese mart part of this sign and miss the details.



The last “sign” I photographed is farther north on 52 and visible from the southbound lane. There’s nothing fancy about this handcrafted message. It’s simple and to the point. The landowner appreciates farmers and loves his country. Perfect.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

NOTE: I photographed these signs several months ago. They may or may not still be in place.


8 Responses to “Along Highway 52: About that popcorn & cheese”

  1. Jackie Says:

    I know all of these signs well!!! Newts is know as the best burger place in town, and yes they are good. I had not noticed the kernels of popcorn on the ground, I will have to look next time we go by.

  2. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Love the last sign. Now I’m off to make popcorn with cheese sticks!!!

  3. The final sign seems to be the only one that still believes in “Truth in Advertising” without the “fine print”… lol
    God bless America and her farmers!

  4. Gunny Says:

    The pop corn that appears to have fallen to the ground is what struck me (I was mentally putting on my car’s brakes!” I was slowing down from back road highway speed of 75 MPH into a town that had an sharp s-curve. I was down to the required 45 MPH when across the road, in my path (foot already on the brakes) I spotted some pretty interesting debris. Someone’s cluckers had abandoned the hen house. Looked like a herd of roosters with all their gay plumage. I thought I was going to create someone’s chicken dinner right then and there! Love the signs!

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