MOM and POPcorn Begets 48 flavors

The MOM and POPcorn Company 215 E. Louisiana St. McKinney 972-542-7605

Try: Parmesan and garlic popcorn Don't try: Cricket Lick It and Real Scorpion Suckers, unless you're brave enough.

When a friend first told me about a gourmet popcorn shop, I didn't exactly jump to my feet. I imagined the Christmas tin full of the long since stale buttered, caramel and cheese-flavored popcorn still sitting in the far corner of my pantry. But since my visit to the MOM and POPcorn Company in McKinney -- a nostalgic, 1950s style popcorn and candy store -- my friend has officially been added to my "people whose opinions I trust" list.

And I wasn't the only newbie headed that way to check it out. As I paused at the crosswalk about a block down from the store, a random woman stopped her SUV in the street, stuck her head out the window and asked me, "Excuse me, do you know how to get to the popcorn store?"

She walked inside a few minutes after I did and went straight to the main attraction: the popcorn counter showcasing the 48 flavors, each an original recipe made fresh in the store. I was first offered to try the jalapeño flavor, to which I reluctantly agreed, seeing as how I am a pansy when it comes to foods at all spicy. I dove in anyway, and man, with a tall glass of milk I could probably put away a whole bag.

The parmesan and garlic flavor was subtler and unexpectedly delicious, with flavoring light enough to melt on your tongue. Their Cornfetti mix of multiple colors and flavors -- orange, watermelon, green apple, etc. -- was a cause for celebration. The popcorn kernels are flavored separately and then mixed together for a colorful party in a bag. Not sure what to buy? No problem, you can sample any flavor for free.

And if popcorn's not your thing, also not a problem. Mom and Pop owners Kim and Tim (a couple so sweet you'd wish they were your parents) offer much more, namely about 26 flavors of taffy you can also sample for free. The lemon meringue taffy was the right amount of creamy lemon minus the lip puckering tartness of a lemon pie or typical artificial flavor.

In addition to the popcorn, they also make their own chocolate candies and fudge, which included a few flavors outside the normal realm of chocolate, caramel or peanut butter, like orange cream and mixed berries. I'll be coming back in September for the pumpkin pie fudge.

But all this is only a portion of the goodies they offer. An entire wall was lined with assorted candies and jellybeans in neat rows of glass containers, collectible items like Pez dispensers and metal lunch boxes, and random candies you never see any more like Moon Pies, coconut bars and licorice gum, which I simply cannot understand.

Kim led me over to a shelf containing a few unconventional candies, among them The Cricket Lick It and Real Scorpion Suckers, crickets and scorpions inside a lollipop. Uuuh, yeah. I decided that I prefer my tongue intact and in its current location.

Instead, I washed my mouth out with a Dublin Dr Pepper, made with Imperial Sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Its old-fashioned recycling glass bottle sweetened the experience.

The Basket: mixed berries fudge, Parmesan garlic popcorn, Dublin Dr. Pepper, Rainbow coconut bar, maple bacon-flavored sucker.

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