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Best Pre-Game Popcorn

Step into Mother Butter’s storefront and your nostrils will fill with the warm scent of Tim and Jennifer Donnelly’s little popcorn kitchen, where a bit of New Orleans punctuates both the décor and the corn. Butter blends such as Louisiana Hot or Jerk Seasoning and gourmet popcorn flavors like Bayou and Cajun are available to sample. The store also offers a few Southern-style sweets like “gophers”—caramel pecans covered in chocolate. Taking an old-school “culinary” approach, Mother Butter’s dashes each batch of popcorn—kept small for taste quality control—with a blend of spices that accentuates the different textures of the various corn varieties. For those unable to choose between the sweet homemade caramel and the salty cheddar, score both with the Chicago mix.” Located a stone’s throw away from U.S. Cellular Field, Mother Butter’s can elevate your Sox game fare from tasty to decadent. Plus, bags of the good stuff start at only one buck. 17 W. 35th St. Monday-Friday, 10:30am-8pm; Saturday, 11am-7pm; only open on Sundays when the White Sox play. (773)548-7677 (Bonnie Fan)

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Alternative Pop! Make Your Own Popcorn

“There are a number companies offering natural, non-GMO corn,” says Tim Donnelly of Mother Butter’s Popcorn And Confectionary, a crave-worthy destination on 35th Street near U.S. Cellular Field...Donnelly takes a slightly different approach, though he, too, seeks inspiration from his spice rack and pantry.

 Whether he selects truffle salt, makes easy, homemade caramel or sprinkles cinnamon sugar or curry on his popcorn, there’s an option for every mood. But let it be known that Donnelly favors popping kernels in coconut oil.

“It’s free of trans fats, and it has a natural butter taste,” he notes. “Plus, once corn is popped with coconut oil, the kernels have a nice crunch, before they melt in your mouth.”

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Mom 'n' pop(corn)

Mother Butter's Popcorn and Confectionary offers local charm and Sox park convenience

60757465.jpg   I see you lined up at its various Chicago outposts, locals and tourists alike, patiently waiting in lines so long you might think they were giving the stuff away for nothing or offering a free iPad 2 with every purchase.

You obviously love Garrett popcorn and why not? It is very good popcorn.

But let me tell you instead about Mother Butter's Popcorn and Confectionery. It was opened in the shadow of Comiskey… pardon me, U.S. Cellular Field… at 17 W. 35th St., on April 6, 2009 by a very pleasant couple named Tim and Jennifer Donnelly. They live in the South Loop now but are proud natives of Beverly.

Even before they married in 2005 they were thinking about their shared future and nurturing a dream that they might one day own their own business.

He was an electrician and the nephew of the late Therese Fox, who owned Fox's Beverly Pub. He started working there when he was 12 and knew his way around a kitchen.

"We both loved popcorn," says Jennifer. "We spent a lot of time experimenting."

And so it was popcorn — easy to make, hospitable to various flavors — that gave them the idea of opening a store.

Jennifer, who teaches art at the Dawes Elementary School on the Southwest Side, took business classes in her spare time and together the couple started searching "well, everywhere, all over the city and suburbs," before settling on a new apartment building complex.

"We knew we had made the right choice when we opened and a woman came in and, almost with tears in her eyes, said, 'I never thought I'd ever see another store like this in my neighborhood'," says Tim, who works full-time at the store. "She had lived in Bronzeville her whole life and saw things when they were good and when they got bad. She was so happy."

Mother Butter's shares the building's retail space with some other businesses, such as a Starbucks. Though any new business is a good thing for an under-served area, it is non-franchise places such as Mother Butter's that give neighborhoods their greatest hope. (See also Bronzeville Coffee and Tea at 528 E. 43rd St.)

"We wanted to be part of a neighborhood that was growing and grow with it," says Tim.

They have a handsome and colorful shop. Though the store's popcorn has made its way by word-of-mouth into the ritzy Trump Hotel and the store's walls contain the autographs of such notable customers as former Sox pitcher Ed Farmer and Frank Orrall of the band Poi Dog Pondering, this is marvelously a neighborhood spot.

As for the popcorn, they started with five flavors and now have a couple dozen, including Red Pepper Cheddar, Caramel Cashew (an Osgood favorite) and Cheezy BBQ. They make it on site with all-natural ingredients and also carry chocolates made exclusively for them and all sorts of self-serve bulk candy and nuts.

"And, you can take any of our stuff into the ballpark with you," says Tim.

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Opening Day for Metra’s Sox stop

Tim Donnelly has been looking forward to today for two years.

For other White Sox fans, the wait has been decades.

Today’s the day that Southland fans can finally ride a Metra train to a Sox game, disembarking at the new 35th Street station that opened last weekend.

As a public service, we at the SouthtownStar want to make sure you rail riders know about some good spots to stop at outside the park. After all, you can’t tailgate at the train station.

When you climb down the stairs or ramps from the station, it’s a short walk to the front door of Mother Butter’s Popcorn and Confectionery, 17 W. 35th St., owned by Donnelly.

“We’ve been waiting for this because you can bring all our products into the ballpark,” he said.

A well-kept secret is that you can bring food into U.S. Cellular Field. If you like popcorn or nuts, Mother Butter’s is a place to visit.

“They’re saving money because they don’t have to pay for parking. They can come in, load up, go to the ballpark,” Donnelly said.

The retail center is also home to Miller Pizza Co., Jimmy John’s and Starbucks Coffee. Heck, you can even tend to last-minute business at the Kinko’s or FedEx.

“The train station is one of the reasons why we moved to the area. It’s good for the neighborhood,” said Donnelly, who grew up in Chicago’s Beverly community.

A walk to the park...

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Enjoy holiday dining, food shopping in local community

Local restaurants, bar, and food stores offer the finest in holiday dining and cheer. Take a break from the hectic holiday season and enjoy a bite to eat or some holiday cheer right in the community.


Mother Butter’s Popcorn and Confectionery, 17W. 35th St., (773) 548-POPP (7677),, Mother Butter’s Popcorn and Confectionery serves up a variety of gourmet popcorn, chocolates, candy, and nuts. They specialize in corporate gifts, special events, and wholesale. Tim Donnelly and Jennifer Carey Donnelly have a passion for popcorn and decided to put their dreams to the test. Chicago White Sox fans may purchase a variety of gourmet popcorn, homemade fudge, chocolates, bulk candy, and roasted nuts to bring into the games at U.S. Cellular Field. Bananas Foster, Chicago Mix, and Cinnamon Caramel are just a few of the top choices for gourmet popcorn. The popcorn of the month is Caramel Pecan Pumpkin Spice. A new website offers a shopping cart feature. Shipping is free as a limited time offer. Hours: Mon. through Fri. 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sun. when the White Sox are in town 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Additional Reviews

"Decadent would be a good word to describe the caramel popcorn..."
Bob Olsxewski
The Beverly Review

"Go maple walnut, go!"
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