Business Is Popping

King Korn Owners Open New Storefront Location

Writer / Amy Lant-Wenger
Photographer / Kari Lipscomb

Nostalgia often encompasses much more than what can be described in a simple word.

It’s a sentiment, a movement, a sense of capturing a moment in time and embracing it with an open heart.

Now, there is a place nestled in historic downtown Ligonier where folks can engage all of their senses while surroundingKing Korn themselves in that very same nostalgia.

At King Korn, members of the Culp family are devoting themselves to the cause of drawing upon bygone memories and creating cherished new ones. Their selections of flavored popcorn, retro candies and snacks, and premium ice cream are downright irresistible, as is their pledge to provide superior customer service.

The King Korn storefront is brand new, and the official grand opening was held in June. The retail aspect of the business is a brick-and-mortar spinoff from the wholesale banner of Indiana Snack Foods in Cromwell. Thus far, even though it has only been open for a few months, the reception from the community and the customers has been overwhelmingly positive.

Co-owner Larry Culp is joined by Amber Culp, who oversees a spectrum of operations for the family business.

Larry Culp explains that the gourmet popcorn is made with unique and exclusive recipes, all truly homemade, at the nearby Cromwell warehouse location. Approximately one year ago, the Culps were given a chance to purchase the business from longtime owners Sam and Ruth Buckles. With the proverbial passing of the torch, the Culp family became the titans of a beloved local tradition. It felt like a serendipitous decision at the time, as the Culps had very fond memories of their own late parents, Romane and Lillian, both of whom shared a passion for popcorn as a special treat.

Initially the Indiana Snack Foods team distributed the popcorn selections via online sales, retail distribution and delivery. Then, as Culp recalls, a somewhat comical and interesting phenomenon started happening – something that made the Culps wonder if there were other avenues to pursue.

King Korn“All of a sudden people were coming to Cromwell and they started coming in to the facility,” Culp says with a laugh. “It got to the point where we thought it might be time to start selling beyond online.”

Once the Culps made the necessary arrangements to open a shop, they went about making decisions on what products would entice customers the most. Of course, the gourmet popcorn, now available in 60 flavors, was at the top of the list. “We make every bit of it,” Culp says.

There are also 16 different flavors of hand-dipped ice cream, all procured from regional creators such as Hudsonville, Ashby’s and Prairie Farms. There is also a vast assortment of bagged candies, most of which comes from Albanese Candy. Culp says visitors are also excited to see the old-fashioned candy displays, featuring items that many believed were no longer available or readily distributed for years. The store also carries a few newer items such as freeze-dried candy, which is exactly what it sounds like and is made to literally melt in your mouth.

Many of the popcorn mixes are a reflection of the community, or have been inspired by the tastes of customers. “We come up with all of the flavors ourselves,” Culp says. Some of the biggest sellers so far for popcorn flavors include bacon cheddar, caramel, and a blend of jalapeño cheddar and caramel, which they call Sweet Heat. Culp says some other flavors that move well are peanut butter and jelly, and white cheddar, along with locally themed creations such as Cromwell Style and a blend named for the West Noble Chargers.

With the holiday season approaching, the Culps are gearing up for seasonal products including pumpkin spice, cinnamon,King Korn peppermint crunch and crème de menthe flavors. There are plans in the works to add a selection of nostalgic sodas to the inventory as well.

To find King Korn’s new store location, head to 316 South Cavin Street in downtown Ligonier. Go to for more information, or call 260-856-4265.

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