Peoria popcorn business turns movie theater snack into creative concoctions

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For Greg and JoAnn Young, popcorn is more than just a movie theater snack. It’s the focus and art of their business.

“It’s the best popcorn you’re ever going to come across,” said Greg. He and his wife JoAnn are co-owners of Young’s Popcorn Heaven in Peoria.

“Everything’s made here in our store,” Greg said. “We pop the popcorn, the caramel was made here. All the flavorings are put together here.”

The Young’s opened the business in Peoria three years ago. It’s the brainchild of Greg’s cousin, who originally started the company in Iowa.

“My husband and I were getting ready to retire and we thought maybe we could buy into the business and start our own here in Peoria,” said JoAnn.

The two Peoria natives have been busy ever since. Over the years, the Young’s have been cranking out a catalog of creative popcorn ideas. Their flavors include more than 50 flavors from sea salt caramel to hot wings and ranch.

JoAnn said, “To come up with a new flavor, we’ll just get in the kitchen and start messing around with some different ingredients and flavors and see what we can come up with.”

But the creative process takes a lot of time and even more patience, the Young’s say.

“I’ve done some experiments—I’ve been successful with some and some of them have not been so successful. So it’s a trial and error,” said Greg.

Beyond just creating, the Young’s say the joy of what they do comes from the customers.

As for what the future holds for Young’s Popcorn Heaven, JoAnn and Greg say they’ve got big plans in the works.

Greg said, “You might find Popcorn Heaven popping up just about anywhere.”

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