Thursday, January 19th is National Popcorn Day and one of the world's most recognizable popcorn brands is right here in Sioux City.
"We're available in about 99% of all major grocery stores in all 50 states in over 40 countries across the world." They are one of the most recognizable names in popcorn and have built their empire in Sioux City.
"We've been in Sioux City since 1914. It started in my great-grandfather's basement," said Alex Smith, 5th-generation in Jolly Time Popcorn. "I think the next year it moved to his garage, and then in 1916, we moved to this plant where we're at right now and we've stayed here ever since."
Located at One Fun Place on the north side of Sioux City, Jolly Time Popcorn is a family business through and through.
"There's a lot of pride in it and not only you know with myself, my brother works here and he has a lot of pride," Smith said of the family business. "We just all have a special bond of what you know, jolly time and what family means to us because we have this cool story that we can all share together."
And that story has really popped since its first batch. "We started in you know, selling on selling in the streets with street vendors and then you go to an old school can where you pop it now to kernel bags, and jars that you pop over the stove," Smith said, "but then microwave is just very easy to use and most convenient and you can do a lot of fun stuff with it."
While corn is one of the midwest's biggest commodities, not all are used for ethanol. Most of their popcorn is sourced within 200 miles of Sioux City.
"We've used the growers the same growers for a very long time," Smith said. "I think there are multiple growers that have been growing popcorn for three generations on their family farm."
With regionally grown white and yellow kernels, what type makes the best batch of popcorn? That may be a matter of opinion.
"The perfect patch of popcorn is probably the yellow kernels," Smith said. "There are two types of kernels white and yellow. Yellow is a little bit bigger and has a kind of a natural butter taste to it. And so I think the best batch is in the microwave just because it's a lot easier for me to make. But when it comes out hot and you can smell it. There's nothing better than that."
To find a full list of Jolly Time products, you can check them out online here.
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It may seem like the latest thing in health trends but for many, being gluten-free is not a lifestyle choice but a medical necessity.
Celiac Disease is an immune-mediated response to gluten and affects 1 in every 100 people worldwide.
"And what that causes a lot of inflammation in the small bowel and this can lead to atrophy of the tissue" said Dr. Jeff Michalak, a gastroenterologist at MercyOne Siouxland.
Celiac Disease is an immune response to gluten that can lead to damage in the small intestine and if untreated, more serious complications.
So gluten is an allergy and so it causes inflammation specifically in the upper small bowel," Dr. Michalak explained. "And when that happens it can lead to pain, bloating, looser stools, and so from that standpoint, it should be avoided."
But what is gluten exactly? Common items like bread and cereals are typically full of gluten.
"So specifically your wheat, your barley, your ryes," Dr. Michalak said. "There's a lot of cereal even certain malts that can be in beer and alcoholic beverages."
Jackie Kuchta was diagnosed with celiac disease 8 years ago."The GI complaints along with migraines," she said of her major symptoms leading up to diagnosis, "almost a month-long migraines before we realize what was causing them."
She says finding foods that won't make her sick can sometimes be a challenge. "For true celiac disease, it is difficult to manage especially if you're the only one in the household that has the celiac disease," she said. "Then trying to ensure that you have an adequate nutrition level to ensure that you don't lose your the necessary vitamins and minerals that you need."
Most are diagnosed between the ages of 10 and 40 and Jackie says looking back, the signs she had an aversion to gluten were always there.
"(My) symptoms really hit about eight years ago, but looking back at childhood going out to eat on like Sundays or holidays, a lot of times I would end up with bloating abdominal pain after eating," she explained.
There is no cure for Celiac Disease, like many other immune disorders, but it can be managed by a careful diet and proper nutrition and lifelong adherence to being gluten-free.
To learn more about Celiac Disease, visit Celiac.org.
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Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill held a news conference Friday morning to discuss what he says is the biggest case of voter fraud he's seen in his 27 years after the wife of Woodbury County Board of Supervisors Vice-Chairman Jeremy Taylor was arrested and charged with multiple counts of voter fraud.
49-year-old Kim Taylor made her initial appearance in Federal Court Thursday on 52 voter fraud-related charges including 23 counts of "fraudulent voting". The court documents themselves claim that Taylor launched her scheme in April of 2020 to create more votes for her husband, Jeremy Taylor, in his failed bid for the Republican nomination for the 4th District Congressional seat in the June 2020 primary and for his successful bid for the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors in the November 2020 general election. Following her initial appearance in court, Kim Taylor was released on a personal recognizance bond.
READ MORE: Wife of Woodbury Co. Board of Supervisor vice-chair charged with voter fraud
At Friday's news conference at the county courthouse, Woodbury County Auditor Pat Gill provided more details about the case and the role his office played in the investigation.
"I care about the process. The integrity of the process, and that's what drives me and that's what I was very concerned about when I saw this start to take place." Gill was first alerted about an issue during the primary election in 2020 when precinct officials noticed irregularities in the absentee ballots. "So I was called down during the primary and two precinct election officials called me over and said, 'take a look at these ballots,'" Auditor Gill said, "and they were write-in ballots that were cast in the Republican primary. What they had was a stack of ballots that were written in, and this is the first time I've ever seen this where you could tell by looking at them that they were all filled out by the same person."
During the 2020 Primary election, Jeremy Taylor was running for the Republican nomination for Iowa's 4th Congressional District against incumbent Steve King and eventual winner and current representative Randy Feenstra.
"Jeremy Taylor was on that ballot for the congressional seat, but written in were 150 primary write-in votes for District 3 which was open at that time," Gill explained. "And then there were also 135 write-ins for Jeremy Taylor for auditor."
Two poll workers, a democrat and a republican working with the absentee ballots noticed the similarities in the write-in votes the day of the primary election.
"It was a precinct election official who was at the absentee precinct that called it to my attention," Gill said about the primary election ballots, "so they wouldn't see the signatures."
Auditor Gill says it wasn't just the write-in ballots that looked the same but come the general election, many of the signatures also seemed to be done by the same person.
"My staff was telling me for a long period of time, that during the primary election and the general election of 2020, there were a lot of signatures that were coming in on those affidavit envelopes that looked like they were signed by the same person," Gill explained. "That is a fact. That's what occurred."
Because Iowa is not a signature verification state, there was nothing the county could do until a voter raised a concern about their ballot. That concern came from a student at Iowa State University.
Our office received a call or staff took the call and a person said that they had requested an absentee ballot and they went to the Secretary of State's website where we all enter that information. And when they looked at the Secretary of State's website this person told me, you have a ballot from me, and I didn't vote that ballot," Gill said.
Further investigation revealed that it wasn't just that student, but their sibling as well. And their names and ballots were cast in the 2020 primary, 2020 general election, and a special Board of Supervisors election held that year as well. None of which the two siblings had voted in themselves. Gill informed Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate's Office and the County Attorney's Office about the irregularities, who escalated it to the FBI.
"When I was visiting with the FBI, they told me that they would like to see those, and I asked him if they were interested in seeing the other affidavit envelopes that had the same signature, and they said yes," Gill said at the news conference, "and so I had my staff go through every affidavit envelope."
"That was during the primary election and during the general election and had them pull all those ballots or affidavits that look like they were concerned with that they'd brought to me initially."
Gill says his office had received complaints about Mrs. Taylor in 2020 but says he wrote them off as her campaigning for her husband.
"I had received complaints about Mrs. Taylor but I kind of wrote them off as the same thing as anybody else does because you know how campaigns are people are very active," said Gill of the initial complaints. "They work with people to get them to the polling place. They'll take them to satellite sites. And there were complaints about that before, but I never thought that any of that was actually occurring until I saw those ballots that were actually filled out and they looked like they were filled out by the same person."
But he also remembers something else about that year.
"One fact that I can say is that when I would leave sometimes in the evening, I would see Kim Taylor putting ballots in the box and Supervisor Taylor was in the vehicle when that was taking place. That's a fact I can tell you." Earlier in 2020, Jeremy Taylor's place of residence was brought into question after voters challenged his seat on the board, after purchasing a home outside his elected district.
READ MORE: Taylor questioned about residency after buying home outside elected district
READ MORE: Challenge filed against Woodbury Supervisor Jeremy Taylor
"Yes, in January 2020 is when I think that was first filed, the voter registration challenge," Gill confirmed. "It was during that period of time that took place."
Election officials have also looked back at the 2014 and 2018 election ballots where Jeremy Taylor was also listed but did not find any irregularities. In 2020, the bulk of the ballots in question came in absentee but Gill says were not part of the pre-filled absentee ballot request forms sent out that election cycle.
Gill said these ballots didn't just impact the local vote, "obviously if somebody's filling out those ballots they're filling out all those contests," Gill said.
Siouxland News reached out to Jeremy Taylor and Kim Taylor for comment on the charges but have not received a response.
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate told Siouxland News Friday: “Election integrity and security is paramount in what we do on a day-to-day basis. At this time, our office cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.”
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