The first commercial popcorn machine was invented here in Chicago and introduced at the Columbian Exposition in 1893. So it's little surprise that popcorn shops have been popping up in our city ever since. Here are five that are worth a stop-especially on National Popcorn Day (Jan. 19.)
Note: You can never go wrong with the Chicago Mix, a classic invented right in our fair city, but if you're looking to branch out a little, we have a few new suggestions.
The Lakeview popcorn shop is a family-run business that dates back to the 1930s, when the popcorn was sold off a cart on Wells Street. They still use some of the same recipes today, and you can even watch batches get mixed up in big copper kettles-just like they did in the olden days.
Number of flavors: 10
Kid pick: Little ones are drawn to the subtly sweet-and-salty Kettle Corn, which has the added bonus of not sticking to their teeth (your dentist will approve!).
Say what?: Bacon cheddar doesn't sound very exotic-until you taste the pieces of real bacon mixed into the original cheddar flavor.
'Tis the season: Keep an eye out for Peppermint Kettle Corn when the holidays start to roll around.
Beyond the corn: The larger stores in Oak Park and Downers Grove offer slushies and ice cream and sometimes take a cotton candy machine to special events.
Fun fact: All of the popcorn is peanut, tree-nut and gluten-free. And several flavors-including butter, strangely enough-are lactose-free.