One of America’s favorite snack foods has been around since before the United States was even born. But popcorn’s more than just popping a bag in the microwave.
Naperville resident Herb Nadelhoffer grew up a farm boy in nearby Woodridge. In addition to the typical cows and crops, he has fond memories of growing popping corn.
“My dad would shell it right there in the kitchen and use an old frying pan and real butter,” said Nadelhoffer. “It would pop and he’d put even more butter on it and salt and pepper. We had a lot of popcorn. It seemed to just be something farmers did. Everybody raised popcorn.”
Nadelhoffer keeps a little bit of the old traditions alive when he makes popcorn, but adds a few of his own, like olive oil and cumin.
Native Americans were growing popcorn even before the colonists came. Over the past 5,000 years it has become a staple in snack food. But it’s not just salt and butter anymore; gourmet popcorn is one of the biggest growing trends in the country.
Kernel’s Gourmet Popcorn & More sells eight different flavors made fresh every day.
“Caramel, caramel cheese mix, yellow cheddar, white cheddar, fire, movie theater, kettle, we also make a caramel cinnamon, caramel chocolate and caramel with cashews,” said Dave Lynch, Manager and Vice President of Kernel’s.
“My dad is a huge fan of the caramel popcorn. He got me addicted to the caramel,” said Elise Lauber, a Kernel’s customer. “Then at work a resident’s family brought in the combo, and now I’m addicted to the combo.”
The Naperville store uses three different kinds of kernels and each has its own purpose.
“Caramel is more of a butterfly effect,” said Lynch. “It opens up more. The pop weaver is more of a white kernel for the movie pop. The cheesy we use a top and pop kernel, just because the cheese covers better.
Gourmet popcorn continues to rise in popularity. TIME Magazine calls it the hottest snack food of 2013.
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