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The Best Day in Grandma’s Kitchen

Grandma Friestad makes the world’s best Popcorn Balls. True fact. They are so so good. They are probably my favorite thing that she makes – with her pineapple cake, butterscotch cookies and peach jello following closely behind.

Each Halloween, Grandma makes multiple batches for when her dozens of grandkids and great-grandkids come trick-or-treating.

It’s like a tradition written in stone. And this year, I would get to see the magnitude of this task.

My cousin Jill asked if she could come help. She wanted an inside look at how Grandma makes these perfectly gooey balls of popcorn. Grandma mentioned her plan and I couldn’t wait to get in on the action.

Jill, her daughter Macy and I met at Grandma’s the morning of the family Halloween party. Grandma had already finished a few batches herself and had everything laid out to start an assembly line.

I jumped right in and the first thing I did was ruin two bags of microwave popcorn. I’m talented like that. Grandma said, “Pop these two bags of popcorn.” I thought, huh, I didn’t know you can pop two bags at once. But knowing Grandma can do anything, I didn’t question it and threw both bags in.

Microwaving popcorn. Pretty much the most common sense job on the face of the earth, but I managed to mess it up. Grandma just laughed and said she had two extra bags anyway. She didn’t even flinch when she handed me another bag of corn to pop. I would have kicked myself out of the kitchen.

Paddling on, we each manned a station and the kitchen was buzzing.

The corn was popping, the sugary sauce was boiling, the coated corn was formed into balls and bags were tied off with green and black raffia.

In no time at all, we had a table overflowing with popcorn balls.

And in his perfect timing, it was at that moment when my uncle Dana walked through the kitchen door, as he does around any holiday that causes Grandma’s kitchen to be brimming with food. He looked around carefully and asked with perfect subtlety, “Are you guys making… popcorn balls? [Extremely surprised.] Well, no one told me!” And like a well-trained puppy waiting politely for a bone, I couldn’t resist tossing him a popcorn ball. Faking his surprise, he dug right in.

Have I mentioned how much everyone loves these popcorn balls?

I have no idea how Grandma has managed to do this for so many years. She made at least ten batches! And is pretty much amazing.

When Halloween night rolled around, as many of the 21 grandkids and 21 great-grandkids that were able stopped in to Grandpa & Grandma’s for the Halloween party. There was a Brock Grain Bin, a slew of pirates, Disney characters, jungle animals, Navy Seals, a cowboy and the most adorable week-old cabbage patch doll.

And for these little trick-or-treaters, Grandma had treat bags, several counters full of food and of course, her popcorn balls.

Just like she did every year for as many years as I can remember.


Grandma’s Popcorn Balls




Kristie Swenson - October 30, 2012 - 5:06 pm

Glad you got to share in the popcorn ball making experience, Sarah!

Gina Wills Vogen - October 30, 2012 - 6:06 pm

My Grandma Wills made popcorn balls every year for Halloween. Kids would come by her house two or three times, hoping she didn’t recognize them again, so they could get more of her goodies! Suddenly, I’m really hungry for a popcorn ball!!!

Gina Wills Vogen - October 30, 2012 - 6:09 pm

What a great story!

Krysta Hermosillo - October 30, 2012 - 9:06 pm

ahhhh…. love Aunt Sharon :) I’m going to try to make these!

Sarah Swenson Durenberger - October 30, 2012 - 10:26 pm

Awwww thanks, Ma! And love that story, Gina. What a fun memory of your Grandma. :-)

Betty Schlappi - October 31, 2012 - 1:05 am

popcorn balls are good but her cinnamon rolls are to die for.

Miriam Runestad Knutson - October 31, 2012 - 1:29 am

I agree, also her pies are so delicious.

Kristin Allen Friestad - October 31, 2012 - 1:51 pm

Sarah, I love this…so glad you shared about one of the many wonderful traditions at “Grandma’s House”!

Gerry Erickson Black - October 31, 2012 - 6:22 pm

I just made Sharon’s popcorn balls and the are sooooo good!!! And easy too!!

Marilynn Thompson - January 28, 2013 - 3:10 am

This page is truly inspired. Sharing memories and activities with the world will surely make it a better place. And there is no better place to grow up than Big Grove Township and the surrounding farming area. Minnesota runs a close second, but only for vacations.