If you take one piece of advice from us, let it be this: Go to downtown Wheaton. Look for the tiny red door on Front Street. Step inside the long, narrow hallway. And buy popcorn. Lots of it. Welcome to The Popcorn Shop, a historic hideaway that sells candy and popcorn in an itsy-bitsy corridor. The experience of going to this west suburban spot is as fun as actually munching on the goods.
The Popcorn Shop has been around since 1921 and is smuggled between two buildings on Wheaton’s main drag. It’s a city icon, yet because of its size (a mere 49 inches wide and 60 feet long) it’s also a hidden gem and there’s a palpable thrill of discovery once you stumble across it.
You can go there for candy — mostly simple, nostalgic goodies (remember Long Boys?). Take your pick of treats from the wall of glass jars; the selection ranges from 5-cent Jaw Busters to 75-cent Good & Plenty. Naturally, the shop also sells popcorn — no flavors or frills. It’s just plain white, lightly salted and delicious. Buy it by the bag, priced 75 cents to $4.50.
If nothing else, you’ll get a kick out of the ambience. The old-timey space, festooned with American flag bunting and stained glass lamps, is actually a former alleyway. It was covered with a ceiling when it opened in 1921 as the In-Between Store, selling penny candy. Its mission has hardly changed since. And its size hasn’t either.
Just call it a small wonder.
The Popcorn Shop
111 W. Front St.
Have you been to The Popcorn Shop? Let us know in the Comments section below.
— Kelly Aiglon