Crazy Corkey's Kettle Corn
Location: Central Market, 34 W. Philadelphia St., York
Jess' pick: Strawberry Cheesecake, Snickerdoodle, Gone Crazy and Cheesy Crab (4 for $10)
Parking: Street, garage
Hours: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
Price range: $3 per bag
Kid's menu: No
Details: Call 717-816-9973 or find Crazy Corkey's Kettle Corn on Facebook
When Plan A doesn't work, you move to Plan B. Plan B just happened to be a kettle corn business for the McCorkeys.
Pat and Eugene, 54, were living in Texas about a year ago. She had retired from the hotel industry and he, from the U.S. Postal Service. They had planned on selling their home and buying a motor home, but the sale fell through.
So they bought a kettle corn machine instead.
The idea was to travel with the kettle corn machine, but they didn't get very far. They came to York County to visit daughter Jennifer Robinson and her family, and never left.
"We got to Pennsylvania and we had our first event a year ago at Hellam carnival," Pat McCorkey said. "We started getting all kinds of requests."
Including the York Revolution baseball team.
Last fall, the team contacted the McCorkeys, saying they were intrigued by the variety of flavors. So the couple signed on, becoming the official kettle corn at the games.
Grandson Dustin, 13, named the business, which keeps popping up across York County – including at a Central Market stand that opened earlier this year.
Crazy Corkey's Kettle Corn is near the North Beaver Street entrance and mostly run by daughter Robinson.
As a nutritionist, Robinson not only helps to concoct the more than 40 flavors, she also makes sure it's somewhat healthy -- using ingredients like canola oil and sea salt.
"We wanted a healthy snack that people could always have and not feel guilty about it," Pat McCorkey said.
The stand was drawing attention on a recent Saturday, when I picked up bags of Cheesy Crab, Snickerdoodle, Gone Crazy and -- new flavor -- Strawberry Cheesecake.
Each bag is $3 or 4 for $10. Corkey's also has a loyalty card program; after buying 10 bags, one is free.
Not all of the flavors are wild -- you can find original kettle corn as Sweet and Salty. I also spotted White Cheddar.
But know the flavors are constantly rotating, Pat McCorkey said.
"Once we figured out how to make the different flavorings, it's just kind of endless," she said. "It's a lot of people saying you can't do this and us saying, yeah we can. Someone said I bet you can't make a banana split -- yep, we can do that."
The Strawberry Cheesecake flavor, for example, was suggested by a Revs ballplayer.
Once, at an event at Harley-Davidson, someone suggested making s'mores. So the McCorkeys headed to the closest grocery store, bought some ingredients and returned to make it before the event ended.
Cheesy Crab is a savory blend with cheddar and Old Bay, while Snickerdoodle is sprinkled with cinnamon. Strawberry Cheesecake wins for the most unusual (and yet still scrumptious), and Gone Crazy might be my favorite.
I picked up Gone Crazy because it tends to be a regular flavor, and the bright colors of blue, red, yellow and purple will certainly attract kids' attention. But the fruity concoction of blue raspberry, strawberry, lemon and grape turned out to be a sweet summertime treat.
XXX, also a regular flavor, took a bit more trial and error, Pat McCorkey said. She wanted to create a spicy nod to the Lone Star State.
"Being raised in Texas, you have to have everything hot hot hot," she said. But it couldn't just be hot -- it had to have good flavor, too.
Now, she's heard of some customers incorporating XXX in salads. The McCorkeys also use the kettle corn as a base for walking tacos and sell them at area events.
Across the Susquehanna River, you'll find a flavor created especially for and sold only at Columbia Kettle Works, a craft brewery and taproom. The flavor includes brewer's yeast, Pat McCorkey said. "That's the only part of it I ever divulge."
They also make the crunchy snack in bulk for weddings and birthday parties.
The kettle corn has become so popular that the McCorkeys were able to hire Robinson full time. Another daughter is moving to the area from Texas. And the McCorkeys, who lived in York from 1991 to 1999 -- Eugene was born and raised in the White Rose -- plan on staying longer than they had anticipated.
"Coming back here was really like coming home," Pat McCorkey said.