By Meg Moss, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director
There is still a crispness in the air in the early mornings, but the weather is heating up during the day, which goes along great with ice cold lemonade! In comes DD&J’s Old Fashioned Kettle Corn and Lemonade. This family owned and operated business started in 2008 due to the economic collapse and according to owner Judy Rogers, “God answered an earnest prayer through my cousin’s offering his old kettle to use to save our house.”
DD&J’s frequently sets up shop at fairs, festivals and concerts, but you can find them just about any time of year. “We’ll set up wherever we are invited to.” Rogers and her family live closer to Lillington, but do a considerable portion of business in Lee County. DD&J’s can be found at events all over central North Carolina, to include events such as the Downtown Sanford Streetfest and Fireworks….go ahead and mark your calendars for that October 8, 2022 event.
When the pandemic hit, and all those fairs, festivals and concerts came to a hault, Rogers and her husband Scott started offering their kettle corn online. They currently pop once a week and ship out within twenty-four hours in heat sealed bags to keep it fresh.
It is a familiar story of a small idea becoming a big business. “Now we’re considering looking for a light manufacturing facility.” One of their goals is to “continue to be a blessing to others, not only by providing great treats for customers to enjoy, but by fundraising for those in need.” Each time the Rogers family sets up their tent, they put out a donation jar for their niece’s daughter, Ellie. “She was born prematurely and has a lot of ongoing medical problems.” The Rogers family has also done a “give back” donation of fresh kettle corn to first responders, and funds from the sales of their kettle corn has helped their church youth group.
And don’t forget the homemade orangeade, lemonade and limeade available at the tent. “We call it the Twister” says Scott.
It wasn’t always easy. When Judy and Scott brought their cousin’s kettle home, they made several attempts at making the kettle corn, but it went terribly wrong and they burned several batches. The Rogers put the kettle away. About two weeks later, after things had calmed down, Judy called her cousin and asked him to explain how to make the corn again. “This time we followed his instructions more closely and the kettle corn turned out much better!”
“Once the method was figured out, we started trying different recipes and brands of corn. Then we started giving out samples to the neighbors. We finally came up with just the right recipe that we could duplicate.”
Next, they loaded up the equipment on a trailer, put the ingredients and the three kids in the van, and started working at the Smithfield Flea Market every weekend. There have been a few stops and starts over the years, but “once again, through an earnest prayer to God and a phone call, we found out that we could be a part of The Pirate Festival in Greenville, NC. After the Pirate Festival, we spent most weekends making and serving kettle corn at festivals within a two hour drive of our home. It was such a blessing for us to be given the opportunity to create great treats for others, work outside and make our house payments for the next few years.” says Judy.
Coming up in the near future, you will be able to find DD&J’s at the Sanford Farmer’s Market, which starts on April 23, 2022 and takes place behind the Buggy Factory in downtown Sanford. Please come check them out, along with other vendors who will be selling fresh produce, meats and eggs.