Popping corn to perfection in Pentwater

July 10, 2023

Bart Zachrich pours the just-coated kernels onto a stainless steel tray. 

Popping corn to perfection in Pentwater

By Ron Beeber, Contributing Writer
PENTWATER — About 14 times a year, teams of Pentwater Service Club members gather in the United Methodist Church’s commercial kitchen to pop about 200 bags of caramel-coated popcorn that it sells to raise funds the club donates to various local causes. And on July 5, a team of members gathered to make still another batch sold either at the July 8 Juried Art and Craft Fair on the Village Green or from area merchants.
The service club began popping and selling popcorn about 10 years ago, adding to its traditional menu of brats and hotdogs sold at several

Standing next to a fan, Jack Provencal and Gigi Mitchell continuously stir the just-coated kernels so they dry and don’t stick together in the bag.

weekend Village Green events each year. But when COVID forced the cancellation of a number of these community events beginning in 2020, the club’s philanthropy goals were threatened. Members then recruited six area businesses — Cenzo’s, Hansen Foods, Pentwater Convenience Center, Portview Wine, Up North Market and Wilson’s General Store — to offer caramel corn for purchase by their retail customers. The club’s simple recipe has become a big hit because its foundation is “mushroom popcorn” that produces those big, round, fluffy kernels everyone loves. So some of the July 5 production was used to restock the shelves of these community-minded area merchants.   

Service club members really enjoy the great camaraderie and teamwork between them on popping days. But they never lose sight of the real purpose — simply to produce plump, tasty popcorn that helps the club both achieve its philanthropy goals, and also demonstrate the club’s intent to be excellent in everything it does.

Beth Russell ties off the bags and puts them in bins for delivery to the various points of sale.

Keith Danielson’s job is to bring the caramel to a boil before it is spread evenly over the kernels.

Jack Provencal and Gigi Mitchell pour the dried, coated kernels into bags.

Tim Cole keeps a close eye on the freshly popped kernels.