Ker­nels of Mem­o­ries


Icome from a lengthy line of farm­ers, though I have never touched a stalk of corn. My dad learned to drive a trac­tor at age 9, work­ing our fam­ily farm in eastern Iowa all through his boy­hood. Af­ter 100 years in the fam­ily, its Cen­tury Farm sta­tus earned us an honorary plaque at the Iowa State Fair. But when I was a kid, the fam­ily sold it to a dis­tant rel­a­tive who wanted to farm it, so my mem­o­ries don’t con­nect much be­yond a visit or two.

Though I can clearly re­mem­ber go­ing to Aunt Rob­bie and Un­cle Ron’s house and open­ing up a closet off the kitchen to find huge—al­most garbage bag-size—clear sacks of pop­corn to snack on. Be­ing a kid, I was so jeal­ous that we didn’t have them at my house. Those bags of pop­corn came from Rob­bie’s side of the fam­ily. She’s the great­grand­daugh­ter of Cloid H. Smith, the Jolly Time Pop Corn founder.

From that dis­tant re­la­tion­ship, my whole fam­ily shares the pop­corn love. I have mem­o­ries of hol­i­day pop­corn balls, snow­ball fights in Jolly Time stock­ing hats and fill­ing up on pop­corn fa­vors at Sioux City fam­ily wed­dings. To this day, Un­cle Ron brings us a case of pop­corn each time he vis­its.

Thanks to so­cial me­dia, I get to watch my own gen­er­a­tion keep up our pop­corn tra­di­tions. Seven years ago my cousins Beth and B.J. started a spe­cialty pop­corn com­pany. Koated Ker­nels, now run by B.J. and Aunt Rob­bie, has more than 20 fla­vors of hand­made gourmet pop­corn. See­ing their videos on Face­book posts, in which they stir huge pans of pop­corn and fold in hot liq­uid caramel, re­minds me of those big bags in Aunt Rob­bie's closet so many years ago.

So while I still may not know an ear of field corn from an ear of pop­corn, I will al­ways have these lit­tle ker­nels of mem­o­ries from grow­ing up with pop­corn roots.

And I will al­ways have at least a cou­ple boxes of Jolly Time sit­ting on my shelf, di­rect from Sioux City, wait­ing for my next movie night.

From that dis­tant re­la­tion­ship, my whole fam­ily shares the pop­corn love.

Jill Godsey shares her love of pop­corn with her son, Beck­ett.

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