Lisa and Jason Milne bring their popcorn to the Trail Market on the Esplanade.

See what’s poppin’ at the market

Royal Theatre's discovery of a vintage popcorn machine means fresh popcorn drenched in butter at future Friday markets.

One of the best features of Trail Market on the Esplanade is the enticing aroma of street fare.

This year there’s a new mouth-watering scent wafting through Jubilee Park – fresh popcorn drenched in real butter, served with a whole bunch of serviettes on the side.

But it’s the story behind the buttery treat that’s the reel attention-grabber.

Old movie reels and metal letters for an old marquee are just a few of the hidden treasures Lisa and Jason Milne discovered after buying the Royal Theatre six years ago.

There was one diamond in the rough, in particular, that really popped out from the shadows.

“One of the things we came across after we took possession was this old Cretors Popcorn Machine,” said Lisa. “In a way it was sad to find something so crucial to a movie theatre, just left all dusty and broken in the crawl space.”

The pair hauled the vintage machine into the light and gave it a good once-over. The broken kettle, lack of doors, dings and scratches had the Milnes skeptical the classic popper could be refurbished.

Realizing a new model would run about $8,000 but unable to warrant the stiff price to ship it off for repair, the relic was once again placed in storage.

“We didn’t really have the right reason to justify the expense as our counter space couldn’t even accommodate two working popcorn machines,” said Milne.

When the City of Trail began Trail Market on the Esplanade three years ago, the Milnes knew this was the place to restore the popper to its place of glory.

“When the market idea was hatched, Jason and I knew it was time to send it off to be refurbished,” explained Lisa.

They’d met with reps from Cretors during movie theatre conferences and trade shows over the years and talked about fixing up the popper.

“They said they could do it, but wouldn’t know exactly what needed to be fixed until it was shipped to them,” she added.

So off went the machine to Cretors in Chicago last summer, and after eight months the popper was up and running.

After adding their unique branding and having a cart custom built, the Milne’s have been rolling out their popcorn at local events.

“It’s been great at the market and popcorn sales have been steady,” Lisa added. “People have been excited to see us there and we often hear, ‘Oh, this is movie popcorn – it’s the best!’”

They’ll be at Trail Market on the Esplanade Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., and Lisa suggests shoppers pop by to try a tub.

“Of course we only use real butter and popcorn is popped fresh,” she said. “As for the other secret ingredients that makes our popcorn so sought after, you’ll have to buy a tub and see!”

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