Every Chicagoan knows about Garrett Popcorn Shops—the city’s favorite gourmet popcorn staple with locations sprinkled around town—but there are other local shops that pop those tasty corn kernels. Beware, though: This stuff is better than what they give you at baseball parks and movie theaters. You don’t even have to feel guilty about eating a handful because plain popcorn is a healthy junk food. And after all, popcorn is Illinois’ official state snack. Whether you like your popcorn sweet ‘n’ salty or hot ‘n’ spicy, you’ll find a flavor even the kids will enjoy at these stores. Did anyone say chocolate peanut butter popcorn?
Gary Poppins, 1739 Sherman Ave., Evanston. Just a spoon full of flavor helps the popcorn go down in the most delightful way. The Chocolate Peanut Butter, White Chocolate Oreo Mint and Chocolate Marshmallow premium gourmet flavors will make any chocaholic just melt into all the buttery goodness this store has to offer. And the Cinnamon, French Vanilla Coffee and Pumpkin Spice gourmet flavors pack a powerful popping punch. Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. Closed holidays. Call (847) 733-1300 or order online at www.garypoppins.com.
Kernel Fabyan’s Gourmet Popcorn Shoppe, 511 S. Third St., Geneva and 22 E. Chicago Ave., Suite 118, Naperville. Although there are only six flavors, kids can taste test Kernel’s Movie Popcorn and Kernel’s Chicago Style Combo—a mix of cheese and caramel. Geneva shop hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday-Monday. 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday. 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Naperville shop hours: 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday. 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Call the Geneva location at (630) 232-7151 or the Naperville location at (630) 717-2595 or visit www.kernelfabyans.com.
Madly Pop’n, 148 N. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park. There’s more than the traditional butter, cheese and caramel at this store. With more than 30 different flavors, kids will go wild for the Watermelon, Bubble Gum and Lucky Charms popcorn. You might want to try the Butter Pecan, Cookies ‘n’ Cream or Smokey BBQ. Owner Erik Claesson’s shop has been popping corn for 23 years. The store also creates party favors for kids’ birthday parties. Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Friday. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday. Call (708) 386-3373 or order online at www.madlypopn.com.
Nuts on Clark, main store: 3830 N. Clark St., Chicago. With multiple Chicago locations including Chicago’s Union Station, Midway Airport and Water Tower place, it’s not hard to spot a shop. And although these stores sell more than just popcorn, the original gourmet recipe popcorn, caramel corn and cheese corn are taste-tempting bites. Hours vary by location. Call (773) 549-6622 for store hours or visit www.nutsonclark.com.
Popper-Razzi Gourmet Popcorn, 3420 W. 183rd St., Hazel Crest. This store, open for about two years, has seven creative flavors including Mo Betta Chedda, Backyard BBQ and Cheese-Kissed Caramel. Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday. Noon-8 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday. Call (708) 799-POPP (7677) or visit www.popper-razzi.com.