Business

Pop goes the gourmet popcorn in downtown Renton

Ilena Cabading, a POP! Gourmet Popcorn employee, is ready with some unusual but tasty creations. - Tracey Compton/Renton Reporter
Ilena Cabading, a POP! Gourmet Popcorn employee, is ready with some unusual but tasty creations.
— image credit: Tracey Compton/Renton Reporter

A lot of things have changed recently. Flip phones have been exchanged for smart phones, books have been transformed by E-readers and popcorn has gone gourmet.

Not your average popcorn, at POP! Gourmet Popcorn in Renton you can find 35 flavors.

“You would never know that there are so many different kinds of popcorn out there,” said Sachin Ajith, company sales director. “When you think of popcorn you just think of popcorn, right?”

Well, prepare to be puzzled and tantalized by the possibilities. There are many to choose from, like the popular chocolate salted carmel and the Maui Waui. The Maui Waui has premium caramel, macadamia nuts and coconut, topped with gourmet white chocolate.

They are known for their original peanut butter caramel, Bighouse. Make plans with your dentist afterward because this one is decadent. It features real peanut butter caramel blended with M&Ms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and mini marshmellows.

If you prefer your popcorn savory, there are plenty of other options, including the Mmmm Bacon. POP! Gourmet Popcorn has teamed up with South Seattle-based J&D Foods’ Bacon Salt to create this and other favorites like bacon chocolate caramel and loaded baked potato.

“I think we have a really unique product,” said Ajith. “You won’t see most of these flavors anywhere else. Most of these are our creations. We went through a lot of research and development at our plant.”

Research and development on popcorn? Basically a lot of trial and error and testing, he said.

The company has been at its present location in downtown Renton on South Third Street since May. Owner David Israel has always been a huge fan of popcorn. And the market, Ajith said, was perfect for it when POP! opened its manufacturing plant on Houser Way in October 2010.

They supplied a store in Southcenter, learning what worked and what didn’t. At the Southcenter location they used to make all their popcorn fresh and mix in all the ingredients on the spot. The problem was they weren’t always consistent. There were 125 ingredients customers could choose from.

They changed up their concept and now pre-make all their popcorn. They wrapped up operations at the Southcenter location after the Christmas rush.

They sold out of their manufacturing plant until demand forced them to open the South Third Street store.

Now business is great, said Ajith, and they make each of their 35 flavors from scratch daily at their plant on Houser Way.

“The customers are great, the local businesses have been helping us out, we really like Renton,” he said.

POP! employs six people, but plans to double that when it expands to a warehouse on Main Street. They are looking at other locations in the greater Seattle area.

Retail ready bags of POP! Gourment Popcorn might soon be available in specialty or even drug store chains, as they plan to go to the retail market in August.

So why popcorn and why now?

“I think it’s always been popular and especially during a recession, comfort foods always sell really well,” said Ajith.

He points to the success of popular popcorn stores on the East Coast and said that this region is ripe for the craze.

Popcorn has even become en vogue at weddings. POP! supplied popcorn from a movable stand to guests at a wedding at the W Hotel in Seattle. They allowed guests to choose from a menu of six to eight flavors they made on the spot.

POP! was recently at the Bite of Seattle and the Return to Renton Car Show. They plan to be involved with the community more like that in the future because they find value in it.

POP! Gourmet Popcorn sells cone-shaped grab bags starting at $2.99 to $6.99 for the savory popcorn and $3.99 to $7.99 for the premium. Popcorn tins that range from a gallon to 3 1/2 gallons go for $19.99 to $49.99.

 

POP! GOURMET POPCORN

914 S. Third St. in Renton

206-682-1550

HOURS: 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Saturday

MORE INFO: www.popgourmetpopcorn.com

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