Want a surefire way to get the attention of a crowd at an outdoor event? Pop some popcorn. That’s been Whitney Rogers’s experience with his kettle corn side business, The Big Chill Kettle Corn.
Popcorn is as popular as snow cones on a summer’s day. And Whitney would know about that too because he and his wife had a snow cone business (hence The Big Chill) delighting customers at farmers markets and other local festivities for 12 years in his native Morgan City. But after adding the crowd-pleasing popcorn to the mix, he knew he was on to something.
Now his kettle corn popcorn is so popular, it’s the only thing on the menu. For Whitney it’s as much about the fun of making the delicious snack as selling it. With his popcorn kettle and about 50 pounds of mushroom corn in tow, he travels from Morgan City to the Delcambre market each month, where he’s been a vendor for five years, and pops 60 to 80 bags on site. Unlike other popcorn makers who use automatic stirrers, Whitney hand turns his with a paddle. “People like to see that,” he points out. “It’s fun, and I enjoy being around the people – that’s what it’s all about.”
When that comforting waif of sweet corn hits the air, the popcorn could sell itself, but then you wouldn’t have the chance to meet Whitney, a friendly, quiet guy with a wide smile. Customers come from Erath, Abbeville and even follow him from Morgan City for his popcorn.
In addition to the original kettle corn, made with a little salt and sugar, Whitney also sells his “sweet heat,” which is his kettle corn with just a touch of Cajun seasoning. “It’s a good game snack,” Whitney points out “and it’s popular at the Delcambre market where customers enjoy it with a beer or bloody Mary, says Whitney. Both varieties are sell outs.
Having made good friends in Delcambre with vendors and customers alike, Whitney doesn’t consider what he does to be work. “People are so friendly in Delcambre and the market staff is good too.’
Long retired, the former oilfield tools salesman also enjoys fishing – catfish mostly – dancing, when he can, and cooking. A few of his specialties are courtbouillon, baked and grilled fish and charbroiled oysters. He also makes the time to spend with his seven grandchildren, who are sure to eat a good snack when they visit.