The sign outside reads "Bucks County Caramel Corn Clusters and more", with the latter being the planned introduction of a gelato range, along with beverages, and all within a stone's throw of the VIP tent for the borough's weekly 10 minute fireworks show.

A cynical New Hopian might find the business formula a hair challenging, especially on recovering West Bridge Street. But our focus is on caramel corn, which historically can consist of popped corn that is covered in caramel or molasses — and yes, Cracker Jack was one of the first brands to popularize this all-American treat.

Bucks County Caramel Corn offers their product in about four or five varieties (they're still ramping up the operation, but are open for business) including clusters containing M&Ms and Oreos. Usually you'll find Linda Sghiatti there (and her husband Jules on weekends).

So, how is the caramel corn?

Here's the deal: Skip the chocolate mix-ins, and go straight for the original caramel corn with peanuts (original plain is fine if you can't take nuts). Bags cost $3 for a small, and $6 plus tax for the medium (get at least a medium in size) and don't let Linda seal the bag. Saying "top it off, please" earns one a few extra handfuls of the stuff, which is desirable because it is among the most highly addictive snacks around, and bags are seldom brought to their intended destinations intact.

The clusters taste fresh and buttery with an excellent caramel kettle flavor and sturdy crunch. An open bag goes quickly and makes a welcome dinner gift. Don't know much about algebra, or long range business plans, but one can't help hoping they stay around awhile — I'm already consuming several bags a week.

Bucks County Caramel Corn is located at 7 W. Bridge St. just up from Main; 215-693-1137.


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