Sizzle Simmer Sauté–Third generation popcorn business is a market staple

Jennifer Ruple

There’s no mistaking the aroma of freshly popped popcorn that greets you as you enter the Sylvania Farmers Market. Long-time vendors Melissa and Jack Carls, owners of Olde Tyme Kettle Korn, have been tempting the taste buds and entertaining market shoppers with their onsite popping since 2014.
Setting up shop at farmers markets is more than just a part-time gig for the Carls. It’s their way of connecting with community. “We both have full-time jobs. Jack is the owner of Daystar Irrigation and I am the office manager at Discern Management Group,” said Melissa Carls. “Kettle Korn is another job, but it’s really not. We love doing it and love the social aspect. You get to meet a lot of great people,” she added.

A third generation business, Olde Tyme Kettle Korn was founded by Melissa’s grandparents in 1992. “They started by going to shows such as Civil War reenactments and would wear period clothes,” Carls reminisced. “My grandfather had a fun expression he would say when he turned on the fire to the kettle, ‘Fire in the hole!’ That was his signal that he was about to pop a new batch.” In 1995, Carls’ mom and dad decided to continue the business when her grandparents were no longer able to.
Melissa and Jack got involved in the business by helping her parents once or twice a year at larger shows. “When my parents retired in 2010 and moved out west, we decided we would take it on and continue the business,” Carls commented. “Jack’s time is more flexible, so he was able to get us involved with the farmers markets, and I help out on evenings and weekends.” In addition to the Sylvania market, the couple can be found at the Toledo and Westgate markets as well as the Perrysburg market.

Although Carls’ grandfather only popped Kettle Korn, the couple has added several other flavors including Karmel Glaze and Movie Style which are always available along with Kettle Korn. They also offer Karmel Cheddar, Cheddar Cheese, fruit flavors, and their newest and very popular Peanut Butter. “We do seasonal flavors such as Strawberry in June, Rainbow Mix in July, and in the fall, Maple Cinnamon and Pumpkin Spice,” explained Carls. Melissa’s favorite is the original Kettle Korn. “Jack is a peanut butter fanatic, so it’s obvious which one is his favorite. It probably took him about three years to find the right combination of ingredients to make it,” she laughed.
All Olde Tyme Kettle Korn is popped onsite, with the exception of a couple varieties that take special coloring. “We have a cast iron kettle, which is heated by propane gas, with a copper catch pot that was passed down from my grandfather,” mentioned Carls. “Soybean oil goes into the kettle, then we add the raw popcorn. At just the right time. we add the sugar. When the popping gets to a certain point, we turn off the heat, and then dump the popcorn into the catch pot. Then we add the salt,” she explained. “When my grandfather started popping corn, he used a wooden paddle stirrer. Since then our process has become more automated with my uncle’s design of a cover and motorized paddle that sits over the kettle.”
“Popcorn is one of those fun treats that’s good for family time,” said Carls. “It just brings a family together.” Here are two of Carls’ recipes you can make for your family with Olde Tyme Kettle Korn.

Olde Tyme Kettle Korn Snack Mix
3 cups pretzel sticks
3 cups Kettle Korn or Karmel Korn
3 cups Crispix cereal
1 pound M&Ms
1 small jar peanuts
16 ounces white chocolate or milk chocolate chips

Mix dry ingredients. Spread out on a cookie sheet.
Slowly melt chocolate then pour over dry ingredients.
When it hardens, break apart and serve. Store in an air-tight container.
(Recipe by Melissa Carls)

Candy Corn Popcorn Balls
12 cups Kettle Korn
1½ cups mini candy corn
¾ cup salted peanuts (optional)
4 cups mini marshmallows
½ stick butter
Non-stick cooking spray

To a large bowl, add Kettle Korn, candy corn and peanuts. Set aside.
In a saucepan, over low heat, melt together the butter and marshmallows. Stir until melted and combined.
Pour mixture into the dry ingredients and stir well until everything is evenly mixed.
Spray hand with non-stick spray.
Roll and press mixture into golf ball size balls.
Place on wax paper until set.
You can also refrigerate them until set.
Store covered at room temperature.
(Recipe by Melissa Carls)

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