What’s Popping in the Rogue Valley? A Guide to the Perfect Local Popcorn
Any self-proclaimed serious moviegoer knows how vital popcorn is to the viewing experience. Fail to fill your bowl for an action flick, and the suspense might leave you grasping for kernels. Or under-salt your snack for the tale of a tragic romance, and tear loss may lead to sodium deficiency.
Luckily, there are three popcorn and kettle corn makers right here in the Rogue Valley offering delicious and high quality snacks suited for any genre of movie. The Yummy Monkey, Blind George’s News Stand, and Bear Kountry Kettle Korn have the right popcorns to fuel your film going.
The Yummy Monkey, besides having an adorably endearing primate on its label, makes scrumptious popcorn and kettle corn. Monkeys are a theme for these popcorn enthusiasts. Their website affirms that the popcorn is “so yummy, you’ll go APE.” And, I can’t disagree: the stuff is banana! Each bag contains small-batch made, gluten-free, non-GMO popcorn scooped, sealed, and sent from Grants Pass. There are three vegan flavors, and high quality Red Sea salt is a main ingredient. But, dancing taste buds and adorable monkeys are only part of what make The Yummy Monkey such a deserving local business to support. They use certified organic, local ingredients and operate with ethical standards of environmental and health consciousness. In Ashland, pick up a bag at the Ashland Food Co-op, Market of Choice, or Shop N Kart. And in Medford at: Health Way Nutrition Center, Medford Food Co-op, Natural Grocers, or Food 4 Less.
Another local shop, with rich history and delicious popcorn, is Blind George’s News Stand in Grants Pass. I drove there last week to tote home some samples. Jack, the owner, sold me caramel corn, cheesy corn, and original buttered popcorn. After scooping the fresh popcorn behind the counter, he proudly produced a newspaper clipping from the 60s, with a photo of a parade in Grants Pass. “This is the original news stand,” he said, pointing to a small shack to the left of the parade, “and that’s George out front in the white shirt.” Why is it called Blind George’s, I asked Jack. “Well, because George was blind.” (Simple enough.) And, the popcorn here is outstanding. There was no skimping of caramel on the caramel corn, and the cheddar corn was savory. A huge popcorn maker in the front of the shop turned out the original, super buttery, movie theatre-perfect popcorn. According to Jack, I was trying some of the most popular sellers. But there were plenty of other adventurous flavors to try, like honey mustard and jalapeño.
While in Grants Pass, I also met Cindy McLachlan of Bear Kountry Kettle Korn, who generously brought a big bag of samples to try. Bear Kountry Kettle Korn makes popcorn and kettle corn on site, at festivals, the horse races at the Josephine Country Fairgrounds, and the Grants Pass growers market. Cindy started the business about five years ago, and she is expert at what she does. I tried her caramel corn, original kettle corn, sugar-free popcorn, and garlic parmesan popcorn. The original kettle corn was hard to beat, and hard to stop eating—I felt like a kid at the county fair, devouring the fresh treat. The sugar free popcorn was unexpectedly yummy, and like all of Bear Kountry Kettle Korn’s products, the popcorn itself was airy, light and perfectly popped. The caramel corn was just the right amount of sweet to sustain a serious snacking session, and the garlic parmesan popcorn was wonderfully savory and unique. Now, I only need to find the films to complement.