Mid-October and that means one thing: our annual trip to Michigan, specifically Rochester, Michigan also known as cider mill central. Of course, I took my dog, so that involved visiting only dog-friendly such as Rochester Cider Mill, and oddly buying popcorn specifically to make quick and easy popcorn treats … for the pup.
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Is Rochester Cider Mill Dog-friendly?
Mostly. At Rocester Cider Mill (5125 Rochester Road) dogs can walk around outside on leash. There’s a small play area for kids with a slide and haybales for climbing. Some picnic tables along the parking lot fill quickly with people who purchased jugs of cider and apple doughnuts. Yes, you can buy apples too – and if you’re lucky enough to be here during Honey Crisp harvest, these are the best Honey Crips apples I’ve ever eaten.
Dogs are not allowed in the small petting zoo, where you can meet sheep and farm animal. Although, my bird dog pup was extremely interested in the chickens and turkey – likely, the largest bird she’s ever seen – and would have squeezed under the fence if she weren’t leashed. Best dog thing to do? Get lots of photos – on hay bales, among pumpkins, and poised with antique farm equipment – of your dog looking seasonally festive.
Dogs are also not allowed in the store where you can buy apple cider, apples, flavoured apple vinegar, squash, pumpkins, doughnuts, honey, pies, and popcorn. Yes, popcorn and that’s where I learned what mushroom popcorn is. (See below).
Rochester Cider Mill has been owned by the Barkham family since 1981. On any given day, extended family members are running the show, baking pies onsite and pressing Michigan grown apples Mondays and Fridays.
Rochester Cider Mill is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm. Plan to spend about an hour here before moving onto other cider mills such as Yates Cider Mill that’s surrounded by scenic walking trails dogs love.
Can My Dog Eat Popcorn?
Again, the answer is mostly. Dogs can eat popcorn in moderation, but no kernels or hard parts that don’t fully popped because these can be choking hazards. Also, no seasonings, butter, or salt. Air popping rather than using oil is preferable for canine consumption. Remember, salt contributes to hypertension.
Also, air popped plain kernels contain minerals beneficial to dogs (and humans): magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, zinc, and fibre, according to the American Kennel Club. As far as people food goes, plain popcorn isn’t bad for dogs.
Here’s something else I learned visiting the Rochester Cider Mill: there’s more than one type of popcorn, and Rochester Cider Mill sells all three – white, yellow, and mushroom popcorn. White and yellow popcorn is like movie popcorn that pops with wings. Mushroom popcorn balloons out puffy like, well, a mushroom, and it’s best used for caramel corn (not for dogs) and popcorn balls.
Popcorn balls? I love those, so maybe my dog will too. Mushroom Popcorn dog treats! I decided if there isn’t already a recipe available, I’d create one. Here’s what I did:
Quick and Easy Popcorn Dog Treats
- ½ cup of Mushroom Popcorn (specifically mushroom because its shape is better for balls)
- 1 cup of peanut butter – sugar free is the best idea for dogs, but definitely select peanut butter free from poisonous Xylitol, also called birch sugar.
- Handful of dog treats made from crickets such as Jiminy’s pumpkin, carrot, oats, and cricket dog training treats.
Directions for popcorn ball dog treats:
First, air pop about ½ cup of Mushroom popcorn. Note that white or yellow popcorn really has too many kernels and shells to give to dogs. Plus, the shape of Mushroom Popcorn holds up better to molding into balls. Also, air popping avoids the use of oils, which really aren’t good for dogs.
Second, roll a small handful of cooled unsalted popcorn with peanut butter. I used about 1 tablespoon of peanut butter per ball and made ‘dog-sized’ balls – about the size of a golf ball. This is messy, but fun.
Third, I rolled and stuck on a few Jiminy’s cricket-based dog treats for added taste. Why cricket protein-based dog treats? Because it’s close to Halloween, so why not a few creepy crawlers in the mix even if you can’t see them? Pumpkin and cricket just seem on theme.
Leave them a few minutes to set then present them to the dog. Did mine eat one? Yes, she did. But she bit the treats off first.
Yield: 5 to 6 balls depending on size
Writer bio: Sherri Telenko has been a professional writer for decades and travel writer for the last two. She’s a member of TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) and Dog Writers Association of America, and travels almost weekly with her canine companion, Victoria.
never heard of mushroom popcorn, unfortunately my dogs cant have some of the ingredients due to diet.
I hadn’t heard of it either – apparently, there are different kinds of popcorn. But now I’m noticing – yes, most kettle corn and caramel corn is mushroom popcorn – a different shape than movie popcorn.