Picture this: you’re self-isolating at home, probably on the couch, maybe with Netflix in the background, when memories of the Hudson Valley’s county fairs cross your mind. The bright lights of the carnival rides and the rainbow of colors at artisan markets both flicker through your thoughts, but, ultimately, you imagine how yummy a delicious, buttery sleeve of popcorn would be right now. Alas, all you have is an incomparable bag of microwavable popcorn from the grocery store that may or may not be burnt.
That is not the way anyone should have to live. Plus, no one should disrespect popcorn with a burnt, microwaved bag of it.
Luckily, Country Kids Popcorn is here to end your worries. A familiar face at Hudson Valley fairs and festivals, the popcorn-palooza brand officially expanded to its own brick-and-mortar in Hopewell Junction for year-round delight. With an official opening on May 7, the store is currently adapting to COVID-19 protocol in the Hudson Valley by offering curbside pickup via an online order form or over the phone.
“The biggest reason we moved to a storefront is because we have customers that keep on asking us to make kettle corn all year around,” says co-owner Levon Bedrosian. “Because in the wintertime obviously you’re not doing festivals.”
Co-owners Bedrosian and Debra Phillips, both of whom reside in Stormville, are frequent visitors to the Valley’s fair scene themselves and always wanted to somehow get involved. In 2014, they decided to take the jump.
The popcorn business wasn’t chosen out of nowhere; it has always been in Bedrosian’s family. And it all started with Bedrosian’s grandfather, George Carpenter, a popcorn connoisseur himself.
“My grandfather always gave popcorn out to all the neighbors and everybody,” Bedrosian says. “He just loved the crunch and wanted to share it.”
Between advice from his grandfather and his own endless research, Bedrosian dedicated himself to making the signature snack for which Country Kids is known.
All of the popcorn-making begins with a mushroom popcorn kernel, which is sourced from a Pennsylvania grower and supplier.
“We use a mushroom popcorn because it pops up bigger,” Bedrosian says. “It’s a little fluffier than regular popcorn.”
When fully up and running, Country Kids Popcorn will offer over forty flavors (we didn’t know this was possible, either) and thirty different tin options. During the coronavirus pandemic, it’s sticking to a streamlined menu with a handful of delectable flavors in four sizes (small, medium, large, and jumbo). Classic and kettle corn are ideal for movie nights, while cinnamon crunch and chocolate are just the thing for anyone with a sweet tooth. For kids, the blue raspberry kettle corn is a perfect pick.
“My favorite is the gold cheddar cheese and Debra’s favorite is the dill pickle,” Bedrosian admits. “But the caramel corn is a favorite of a lot of customers.”
There are non-GMO, vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free flavors. The menu is broken down between classic, candy-coated, candied, kettle corn, savory, gourmet-flavored, and seasonal popcorn. Although the caramel corn is a fan favorite, the mango habanero and s’mores sound like must-tries. For the indecisive, there will be sixteen different sample dispensers with flavors that rotate weekly.
In regard to the location, Hopewell Junction was an easy choice for the brick-and-mortar transition. As the owners of one of only a select few popcorn stores in the Valley, Bedrosian and Phillips wanted the store to be as easily accessible for its customers as possible. So, they thought of a central location that is also close to the highway, making it must for anyone with a hankering for the snackable stuff in Dutchess County.
Finally, the nightmare is over, and you can officially eat delicious popcorn all the time. And, don’t fret, Country Kids Popcorn will reappear as a vendor at local festivals once it’s safe to do so.
Country Kids Popcorn
2593 Rte 52, Ste 5, Hopewell Junction