My Perfect Reward...


To me, there is no more perfect food in the world than kettle corn. I love kettle corn – a lot. In fact, I love kettle corn so much that I can only buy it in very limited quantities. I honestly cannot stop eating it. The perfect combination of sweet and salty crunch has me hooked. If I buy a big bag, (and doesn’t it always come in a BIG bag?), I eat it right down to the last greasy crumbs. I fall back in my chair in an over-satiated slump. I swear I’ll never eat it again. Then the next outdoor event comes up, along with the smell of that intoxicating drug, and my hand is right back in the bag.

Here is something I don’t particularly like: grocery shopping. I don’t hate grocery shopping as much as I love kettle corn, but you get the idea. I putz around the house, finding other things to do before I finally get that list together and head out to the warehouse-sized grocery store, a couple of miles from my home.

Now I know for sure that God exists because He gave someone the grand idea of setting up a popcorn station in the middle of that grocery store. Yes, there the ladies are, every day, cranking out popcorn, caramel corn, cheese corn, and my beloved kettle corn. Also, God made sure that they packaged these products not only in huge bags, but also in small covered plastic cups. One cup is all I need, really, and it helps to keeps my obsession in check. 

So, I have set up a reward for myself. Get the grocery shopping done, Martha, and you can have a cup of kettle corn on the way home. And it works. I practically leap for joy when it is time to do my weekly run. Just get through this tedious list, and I can pick up the coveted reward.

 A few months ago, I was looking for my cup ‘o’ corn, and it was not on the shelves. Sure, lots of “butter” flavor, caramel corn, Chicago mix, even “sour cream” (!), but no kettle corn. I inquired at the popcorn counter.  The usual lady who works in the popcorn department, Becky, said she would make one up for me. The next week the same thing happened. No kettle corn on the shelf, but as soon as she saw me, Becky hustled to get one made. The next week, a different employee was at the counter. When I inquired about my treat she said, “Oh, are you the kettle corn lady?”. She smiled with pride when she offered up the specially made-up container of kettle corn, packaged just for me.

And so, this is how it goes. Every Friday afternoon I get my grocery shopping done, and every Friday afternoon, I get my reward. I always make sure that Becky sees that I have taken one, and give her a big thanks, because it seems to please her to no end. A few weeks ago, I grabbed my cup, waved to Becky, and she said, “Oh, that’s not fresh. I made you up a new batch. Here it is in a bag. But I’m only going to charge you the cup price.” And so, my kettle corn dealer stokes my habit by giving me a fresh bag of kettle corn for the price of a cup.

Last week, I did my usual ‘take the cup and wave hello at Becky’. She said, “I haven’t seen you for a few weeks.” Indeed, I had been on vacation, as was Becky. She said, “Elaine said ‘your kettle corn lady didn’t come in this week while you were gone.’” I am not kidding. I am known as the “kettle corn lady” at this huge store which grinds out bags and bags of popcorn every day. They have made me and my habit a vital part of their work week! I get the attention I so crave, not to mention my food of choice, and they get the satisfaction of knowing they pleased this appreciative customer, also known as the kettle corn lady.

Last night, I went shopping for a few items at a brand-new grocery store. Yes, it’s beautiful and it is closer to my home. But how can I switch stores, knowing the popcorn ladies are looking for me every Friday? No, the ladies at the popcorn counter and my addiction to kettle corn keep me tethered to this old store. 

Let’s hope I never get sick of kettle corn. I don’t think we need to worry about that.