50 in 50: Indiana: Popcorn and Movies from America's Heartland

Couldn't resist sharing Jim Gaffigan's humorous take on Indiana (above). He was born there. He's allowed to poke fun. For true Hoosiers--those who stay--Indiana's more like this: Then there's the Indiana portrayed on ABC's The Middle. The Hecks--Frankie (Patricia Heaton), a dental hygienist, Mike (Neil Flynn), a quarry supervisor, and their three kids--are a less-than-perfect middle-class family in the fictional small town of Orson, Indiana. Executive producer DeAnn Heline--raised in Muncie, Indiana--came up with the concept for the show. Below, Mike and Frankie and their quirky, lovable youngest child, Brick (Atticus Shaffer), in a typical Heck family moment. Some of America's favorite movies are set in Indiana. "With its endless cornfields and ‘Hoosier Hospitality,’" says The Culture Trip, "Indiana makes an easy setting for non-metropolitan pictures." The based-in-Indiana list includes Hoosiers, A Christmas Story, The Fault in Our Stars, Rudy and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, to name a few. My Indiana-based favorite? Breaking Away. "Exploring the dynamics of working-class Bloomington ‘townies’ versus the generally more privileged students of Indiana University," says The Culture Trip, "the 1979 Oscar and Golden Globe-winning film tells the story of four underdog ‘townies’ in their attempt to compete in the university’s Little 500 endurance bicycle race...shot entirely on location in Bloomington and the Indiana University campus." In this hilarious and touching coming-of-age film, Dave and his three townie friends--all recent high school grads--sweat away in the local quarry cutting limestone. While his friends seem okay with their blue collar fate, Dave has zero interest in quarry work. He's obsessed with Italian competitive bicycle racing, Italian language, Italian music and culture. Dave's dad, a former stonecutter (turned used car salesman), genuinely loved his old job at the quarry. He sees that kind of work as Dave's ticket to a stable, middle class life. From my perspective the film shows the need for all kinds of jobs--blue collar, white collar, dirty or not--for all kinds of individuals. Which brings me to the need for all kinds of popcorn. Bet you didn't see that segue coming. Yoder Popcorn of Northern Indiana--in "the heart of Amish country"--sells "popcorn the way you remember it." I'm guessing that means the way it tasted when you were just a kid with a bucket of movie popcorn and a dream. Since 1936 the Yoders have grown and harvested corn on the family's 1,700-acre farm in Shipshewana. They also operate the Popcorn Shoppe retail store located on the farm. The Popcorn Shoppe sells every variety of popcorn imaginable, as well as popcorn-related needs, such as oils, seasonings and hand-crank poppers. They also sell popcorn-themed apparel, souvenir t-shirts and gift baskets. Most everything is available online. Yoder Popcorn's Tiny Tender White Popcorn. Yoder Popcorn 6-Qt Whirley Pop Popper.

Comes from Wabash Valley with a 25 Year Warranty. $24.95 Indiana-based Jacob Cromwell, one of the oldest companies in America, also sells a popcorn popper. At $149.99 (plus another $50 for stainless steel) you may need to take out a small loan to purchase it. Should this trouble you, recall the words of President John F. Kennedy: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." His message is clear. Buy this popper, enjoy it and pass it on to future generations of Americans. Jacob Cromwell Original Popcorn Popper $149.99 (add $50 for stainless steel) Still not convinced? Read the description from Jacob Bromwell's website: "You've found it: that old-time popper you love, still made right here in the USA. With the kiddos crunching and laughing away, there’s no better way to bring family and friends together than the good old fashioned way. Our Original Popcorn Popper is a durable customer favorite, and it's still made at the Bromwell factory in the heart of Indiana's popcorn country. Kids love watching the kernels magically transform into fluffy popcorn, whether it’s used over an open fire or kitchen stovetop. A historical marvel and work of art, this American classic is still 100% built in the USA and is now in its 197th year of production, having maintained its original design since it was given the gift of life in the early 1800s. Whether it's used for movie nights at home or ghost stories around the campfire, start creating family memories that last a lifetime--with a bit of oil, a pinch of salt, and a dash of nostalgia." Jacob Bromwell's website is entertaining and informative. Watch the factory tour. Scroll through the high quality products. Gasp at the prices, take a deep breath. There must be something you can afford. How about a set of Grandma's Cookie Cutters? Grandma's Cookie Cutters, Jacob Bromwell. $24.99 Popcorn popping, cookies baking, a heartland-based movie a click away. Not a bad way to enjoy an evening in May. Thanks, Indiana! Next up: Iowa. PS: A huge thank you to my talented niece, Angela Accomazzo, for giving CAMJ a fresh new look. Great job, Angela!