Perhaps my appreciation for popcorn is directly linked to my dad. The man LOVES popcorn. (and most snacks in general) When I was a kid and we went to K-mart, dad would usually buy that giant bag of popcorn from the snack bar. It was yummy popcorn, really salty with a processed butter flavor (you know that stuff isn't really butter right?). Even now, knowing much better and having experienced far superior snacks, I am tempted by the giant plastic bag of freshly popped popcorn displayed near the check out lanes at K-Mart, for nostalgia sake, I always consider buying a bag. Perhaps nostalgia is the reason I was so drawn into Del's Popcorn Shop in Decatur, IL this past Thursday. Or it might have been that amazing lighted sign and the stripes on the canopy over the door. Whatever the reason, I am so glad I went inside.
First the facts.
Del's is located on North Merchant Street in the downtown artsy area of Decatur, IL. It opened in 1934. They feature a multitude of chocolates, home made fudge, freshly roasted nuts OH! And if you bring your own container- (SERIOUS COOL POINTS FOR "BRING YOUR OWN CONTAINER"-you know, "reduce, reuse, recycle" etc.) anyway you bring your own container and they will grind some peanuts in to FRESH PEANUT BUTTER for you! Typically, I only find such a luxury at Whole Foods. (and I might add even tho they are a "planet friendly" company, even Whole Foods doesn't do the whole "bring your own container" thing. Or at least not to my knowledge). So yea, they have all of those things I mentioned and believe me, on our THIRD visit to Del's (IN THREE DAYS) we purchased a little sampling of a few chocolates and every thing we sampled was fantastic.
Perhaps you are now saying to yourself- "Wow, they went back to the pop corn shop three times in three days?" Ummm...Yes, yes we did. Here is the recap of our visits:
Day 1. Wander into the charming storefront of Del's only to find shoulder to shoulder customers ordering freshly popped salted and buttered popped corn at the front counter. At this point, being the "crowd avoider" I am drawn through this open door way into the every day candy side of the store....(QUE THE SOUND EFFECT OF WHHHAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!) While I, like every other non-communist person in the free world, have a certain appreciation for that luxury we call chocolate. I certainly do enjoy it, but my heart, my true love is for CANDY! (click on the candy link to view my personal blog post regarding the art of candy) Del's not only had a beautiful display of old fashioned pre-packaged candy in this magical side room, they also featured quite a selection of candy to be purchased by weight.
Among those candies was of course my absolute favorite made by the geniuses over at Jelly Belly. unbearably HOT AS A MOTHA cinnamon bears. So we make our way to the counter and decide quickly on "one bag of cookies and cream pop corn" I will spare you a ton of words. I'll give it to you straight. Fresh popcorn, white chocolate, and pieces of oreo cookies. Yep. Is there really any need at this point to explain why we visited the next two times? I mean really? 8 oz of this "crack" and one 20 oz Diet Coke later- we were hooked.
Day 2. TK is teaching class so I ventured back down town for 2 reasons. 1. ummmm yea, see "8 oz of "crack" comment above. and 2. to take photos for this blog. Drug of choice purchase-CHECK! Pictures for my first foodie blog...errr ahhh ummm... okay so the batteries in my camera were dead and no, no I did not have extra batteries with me. (even tho I was taught better).
Day 3-AHHH SUCCESS! Candy and yes of course more popcorn was purchased-have you been listening? We are completely STUH-RUNG OUT! 2. Photos were taken 3. Acquaintances were made with Corinne, part time substitute school teacher and part time Del's popcorn maker. She graciously allowed us to photograph the process of Carmel corn making. From coating the popped corn, to separating and cooling the batch.
I was so tempted to try a sample of the caramel, one of their most popular flavors, but really, considering the level at which we were jonesing for the other flavors we tried, I though it best to thank our new friend and be on our way.
So here we are, back in our home town....6 hours away from the nearest Del's....Take heart fellow foodies, tomorrow is Saturday and the weather is supposed to be perfect for a drive! Only kidding....However, should you need a "fix" Del's is available online!
Dad-you should be looking for yours to come in the mail soon! AK