Pop-a-licious Gourmet Popcorn, a small, family owned and run business, was located in the Market Place Mall until recently. The kiosk wasn't suited for this ever-growing business, and Pop-a-licious needed to be a walk-in shop. The popcorn and frozen yogurt shop is now located right next to Po'Boys in Urbana, and run by a lovely couple who are committed to bringing the best popcorn and frozen yogurt to Urbana.
As soon as you walk into the store, you can see the super bright colors everywhere. Flashes of yellow, blue, white, and red are all around either as bright posters for the latest fro-yo, or as part of the store itself. I was anxious about gourmet popcorn, since I have never been quite a big fan of flavored popcorn — I'm not even a fan of theater popcorn. However, from the moment I entered, Pop-a-licious was able to easily calm my worries about the popcorn hype.
All of Pop-a-licious’ corn kernels are from local farmers around Champaign. The storeowners go out of their way in order to do right by local farmers and the customers. Each order is hand prepared right in the store and none of the popcorn comes with hulls*, so customers get the best poppin' product out there!
Offering over nine different flavors, three mixed flavors, and three different sizes, Pop-a-licious offers a type of popcorn for any customer. Flavors varied from classics like kettle, cheese, and caramel (price varies per size) to more intense flavors like theater butter, caramel apple, and the outstanding Illini (orange and blue popcorn). Being a proud Illini fan, I had to snag the Orange and Blue popcorn, which is an orange and blueberry flavored popcorn ($4.75 for a small). The orange flavor bursts through this crispy, crunchy, and sticky popcorn; the blueberry comes in like a mellow strum of a bass, adding to the whole melody of the popcorn.
I also had to go for the sweet, delightful snack that is fro-yo. Unlike Ron Swanson, who thinks of fro-yo as the celery of desserts, I love fro-yo. The fro-yo flavors and types were just as varied as the popcorn. Ranging from chocolate and vanilla to almond milk strawberry, as well as ice cream sandwich, the flavors are strong and mix well together. Just like the popcorn, prices vary depending on the size, but unlike other fro-yo stores, Pop-a-licious sells fro-yo based on the cup alone and not by the weight of your fro-yo. This means you can get however much you can fill up in the cup and not be charged for having just a little bit extra. The price for a small cup is $5, medium is $8.50, and a large is $13. I decided to go for the $8.50 medium size. I layered my flavors of almond milk strawberry, banana-rama, ice cream sandwich, chocolate, and topped it with cotton candy and vanilla. What can I say? I love the different flavors! Finally, I topped the cup with shaved coconut, melted peanut butter, some gummies, and a load of cheesecake bites.
This was one of my favorite places to try out, especially because I know for a fact that the cup I got at Pop-a-licious would be $10 to $12 somewhere else. Each flavor was distinct, sweet, and cool to the tongue, so there were no pitfalls at all. There were fewer toppings available compared to other places, but I do believe that is the calling card of other fro-yo shops. I would still choose Pop-a-licious if I am craving fro-yo. Plus, Pop-a-licious has a "TheGotSpot" deal going on to pay $5 and get $12 worth of product. If you are looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth and also give you a crunchy, salty product, Pop-a-licious is the place to be!
Pop-a-licious is located at 202 East University Avenue, Urbana, and open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
All photos by AJ Taylor.
Editor's note: a previous version of this article incorrectly idenitified corn hulls as corn husks.