Kankakee County, IL — Governor JB Pritzker, alongside the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), elected officials, and industry leaders, proudly unveiled the latest inductees into the Illinois Made program, including Cranky Mike’s Popcorn in Momence. This year marks a significant milestone as 48 exceptional small businesses, often referred to as ‘Makers,’ have been welcomed into the program, constituting the largest class of honorees since its inception in 2016. Annually, the Illinois Office of Tourism meticulously selects local businesses that epitomize the hidden treasures, authentic experiences, and unique products that make Illinois an extraordinary destination for both residents and visitors.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, Governor JB Pritzker commented, “The Illinois Made program selects a group of our most exemplary hidden gems and one-of-a-kind small business and encourages Illinoisans and visitors alike to discover the experiences they offer. “This year’s class of Illinois Makers is one of our most diverse. In every corner of our state, people from all walks of life are creating delicious food and sharing expert craftsmanship. Illinois is sending out the message loud and clear that our state is open for business, and it’s the perfect place for business big and small to call home.”
DCEO Director Kristin Richards added, “Small businesses are essential to Illinois’ economy and Illinois Makers not only provide economic impact but also add to our diverse communities, inspiring travel to all corners of the state. This year we are proud to welcome the largest class of Illinois Made Makers to date – a testament to the wide-ranging unique experience and quality of products that Illinois small businesses offer.”
The 2023 Illinois Makers class represents the largest group since the program’s inception, expanding the total count of Makers to 276. This year’s honorees present a wide array of products, ranging from locally sourced and fermented kombucha to handcrafted, custom golf clubs.
“Congratulations to Christine and Michael Doud and Cranky Mike’s for receiving this prestigious recognition from the State of Illinois. We’re delighted that this family-owned business has grown over the years; they are so deserving of this award,” said Nicole Gavin, Executive Director of the Kankakee County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Cranky Mike’s Popcorn, a small family-run business located in Momence, is among the distinguished honorees. Christine Doud, the owner, and her son, Thomas Doud, collaborate as a dynamic duo, crafting the gourmet flavors for which Cranky Mike’s is renowned. The Doud family takes pride in using top-notch ingredients to create delectable snacks, including cotton candy cakes, rice crispy squares, and their standout offering, gourmet flavored popcorn. Locally sourced ingredients, like high-quality chocolates and strawberries from Momence’s Van Drunen Farms, are a point of pride for the Doud’s when creating specialty flavors like their Chocolate Strawberry Kettle Corn.
The journey of Cranky Mike’s began 25 years ago when owner Christine Doud, a stay-at-home mother searching for a means to provide for her family, discovered the opportunity of weekend concessions. She identified a gap in the community for kettle corn vendors and embarked on a journey of learning, internet research, and feedback from neighbors. Through this process, the signature Cranky Mike’s kettle corn recipe was born. At first, Cranky Mike’s Popcorn could only be found at the Kankakee Farmers’ Market in downtown Kankakee. Since then, they have forged meaningful connections within the Kankakee County communities. Cranky Mike’s now enjoys partnerships with local colleges, hospitals, and businesses and has been privileged to be part of various celebrations, from wedding popcorn bars to corporate thank-you gifts. Popcorn is a unifying, family-friendly treat that brings people from diverse backgrounds together.
And, after 20 years of selling at the Kankakee Farmers’ Market, Christine expanded her enterprise with guidance from a local business mentor, officially establishing Cranky Mike’s in Momence, IL. Their menu expanded from kettle corn to over 10 gourmet popcorn flavors. Christine expresses profound gratitude to the community that has supported her throughout the years, enabling her business to flourish.
Cranky Mike’s Popcorn is housed in one of Momence’s historic buildings, originally constructed as a local church in 1893. Visitors often remark on the building’s unique architecture. Due to their business’s growth, they’ve added a display room to the church, equipped with a convenient window for orders, as the interior is now brimming with their numerous weekly orders.
“Thank you for thinking of us and all the work you have done to promote Cranky Mike’s.
We are glad for the partnership! We cannot thank you enough for sharing and are so excited and proud to represent Kankakee County. Thank you again from Cranky Mike’s for sharing and encouraging us to take part in the application for Illinois Made. The nomination came as a surprise and is a fantastic thing to be grateful for with Thanksgiving this past week,” – Christine Doud, Owner of Cranky Mike’s Popcorn.
Cranky Mike’s joins fellow Kankakee County businesses, BrickStone Brewery and Locavore Farm, in the Illinois Made Makers program.
For more information about Illinois Made and the small businesses that make up the program, go to https://www.enjoyillinois.com/illinois-made/
About Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau: Visit Kankakee County works to market and sell Kankakee County as a premier business and leisure destination enhancing our community image through digital media, advertising, marketing, public relations and group sales.