Enough popcorn and sunshine for everyone

Cameron Clan Kettle Corn is ‘popping’
Posted:  Friday, July 14, 2017 - 8:00am

Cameron Clan Kettle Corn has been selling its popcorn in downtown Wiscasset for over a year. The shop opened in May 2016.

Since then, word has spread, and business has been good, according to owner Jennifer Ingham, who was in the little shop on July 12.

Ingham and her husband Wade have been popping and marketing popped corn for almost five years. It started when they were living in northern Maine, near Greenville, and it struck them that there wasn't a whole lot going on to entertain them and their eight children.

“We had had a lot of experience with crafting, and fairs and festivals, and we knew that food stands made some real money,” Ingham said. “So we decided to do a food business. We thought it would be fun for the kids.”

They began researching different foods to sell, and decided kettle corn made the most sense for their family. They came up with a business plan and started researching recipes, then bought the necessary equipment, and started popping. “We practiced and practiced until we found a really good, solid recipe.”

They started selling their product at fairs and festivals, at that time only one flavor: Sweet and salty. Local stores started ordering packages of the treat, and the new business began to take off.

They soon realized they needed more space for packaging the product for stores, so they rented the space beside Red's Eats, and now have room to pop the corn – Wade pops it over a propane burner in the screened-in porch — package it in a room off the back and sell it in the storefront.

There are two kinds of popcorn: butterfly and mushroom. Butterfly is the most typical. When it pops, it has a shape like a butterfly. “That's good for savory popcorns,” Ingham said. “It catches all the herbs. The mushroom popcorn pops into a big ball. That's a good big surface to capture the candy coating.”

Ingham has a pot of the mushroom popcorn growing outside the shop. “I'm growing popcorn!” she said with a laugh.

Besides flavored popcorn, the shop sells ice cream, lemonade and locally made fudge.

The ice cream comes from Annabelle's Natural Ice Cream in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It is made with all high-quality, natural ingredients, and Ingham said some people come to the shop just for the coveted ice cream, in cones, shakes and sundaes.

There are three picnic tables, with umbrellas, outside the shop, and on July 12, people were sitting at one of them, eating lobster rolls from Red's. “We share,” Ingham said. “They’re really my tables, but people were coming down from Red's with their lunches, and Deb (Gagnon – Red's owner) felt bad. I said don't worry about it. Your customers are my customers. Red's is the best neighbor ever.”

And Ingham said it doesn't hurt her business. In fact, it helps. “People will eat the lobster rolls, then come in for an ice cream, some fresh lemonade, and some popcorn. Some people even leave the line at Red's, come over for an ice cream, then get back in line. There's no competition, it's all good.

“As my son, Christian says, there's enough sunshine for everyone to get a tan.”

The lemonade is made to order, right down to squeezing the lemons and adding freshly made strawberry and wild Maine blueberry syrups.

The popcorn is made with only the best ingredients, Ingham said. The salt is Himalayan sea salt, and the oil is non-GMO (genetically modified organism) sunflower, pure-pressed cane sugar, and non-GMO popcorn.

Ingham said they could have used artificially flavored syrups and had “a thousand different flavors,” but they wanted to keep it homemade and natural, so they developed their own flavors and seasonings.

Those flavors include cocoa, white cheddar, cinnamon, sweet chili with a kick of lime, herbal bliss, and maple. “We tried a lot of different flavors and combinations, and sometimes it was a bomb, and other times it was delicious.”

The shop also sells original art and jewelry by local artists.

The business's name derives from Wade's middle name, Cameron, a Scottish Clan name. “And we're a big family of 10 … a clan, so we proudly represent the Cameron Clan,” Ingham said.

Only the couple's three oldest sons, Justice, 20, Christian, 19, and Truth, 17, are of working age, so they help out in the shop when they're not pursuing other interests or working next door at Red's Eats.

On July 12, Christian stopped by and helped himself to some white cheddar popcorn, his favorite flavor. It should be. It is made with his own recipe.

Cameron Clan Kettle Corn is being distributed around Maine and can be found at Rising Tide and other natural food stores, and at some Hannafords. The shop is located at 49 Water St.