This pops is the tops

Though they came a little later this year, the signs of spring in our neck of the woods look just about the same as everyone else’s. There’s the whack of the bat on the baseball diamond next door to our house, the sweet pink blossoms on the crab apple tree outside my office window, the sittin’ chair that makes its way to our neighbor Connie the Cookie Lady’s front porch, and the return of Mike’s Popcorn Stand.

My dad used to bring home a giant bag of Mike’s popcorn on summer nights when we were young. We’d eat it in the only air conditioned room in the house, our family room, on blankets set out to catch errant kernels.

A Northside Appleton institution, Mike’s Popcorn Stand has been sending the salty scent of popcorn our way every night from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m, May through October, since 1968.

Still owned and run by Mike and his family, Mike’s Popcorn has expanded its product line, but maintained its top secret recipe. Today, while you can still buy a brown paper bag fresh from the stand up the road, you can also subscribe to a Popcorn of the Month Club, via the company’s website.

Opening night of the 2016 season happened earlier this week with the appropriate fanfare – steady kernel popping, happy chatter aong people waiting in line, a few car honks, and, right across the street, a dramatic two-squad car traffic stop.

“Hey look,” someone said. “Popcorn and a movie.”

As we walked home with our warm bag of popcorn, a little girl skipped toward us, singing a little tune and swinging an empty bag, possibly the happiest kid on the planet.

“You going for some popcorn?” I asked.

“Yep,” she said, and happily skipped past.

Popcorn and the stand
With spring comes the cheerful popcorn wagon, every year since 1968.
Popcorn and the White Snake 001
The line formed early.
Popcorn and the sisters
These two sisters cracked me up. “Oh, you don’t want to take our picture,” they said. Then they turned a posed just as I shot. 
Popcorn and the tip toeing girl
She had to stand on tip toe to place her order.
Popcorn and the skipping girl
This little girl skipped all the way to the popcorn stand.

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