Posts tagged gourmet popcorn
Posts tagged gourmet popcorn
There’s a story behind every CrunchDaddy Popcorn flavor, because each one evolves and is always considered a work in progress. We play around with original taste combinations for our gourmet popcorn, savory and sweet, as we never use the common, artificial flavorings that so many popcorn makers use.
Most of my fellow Marylanders would agree that the definitive taste of our great state is the Chesapeake Bay seasoning that we use on our steamed crabs, shrimp and other seafood. We in Maryland love the taste so much that we put in on our chicken wings, our French fries, in barbecue sauces, in our soups and stews… and on our popcorn!
One of our most recent CrunchDaddy flavor releases is “Chesapeake Peanut Crunch.” It’s a kicked-up version of our Caramel & Peanut Crunch… spiced with Chesapeake seasoning for a sweet, spicy, peanutty, crunchy and salty experience that immediately rings the flavor bell for the locals in Maryland.
It sounds like an easy product to develop, but we’re very picky about our ingredients… and the common Chesapeake spice blends that we found in the local supermarket just didn’t work well for us. By the time we developed Chesapeake Peanut Crunch we were also producing Maryland Crab Feast Crunch (with Chesapeake seasoning, vinegar and sea salt) and had retired an old kettle corn variety that used the same seasoning. Each flavor had merits, but lacked something that always left us feeling as though these flavors could be improved.
As luck or providence would have it… CrunchDaddy has a great friend and customer, Jennifer, who lives in Frederick, Maryland. Several months ago she messaged me to ask if our products were made with “J.O. Spice”… and if not, could she introduce me to her connection at J.O. Spice and perhaps get a sample of their product to me. After a busy holiday season it was time to look into what was lacking in our flavors that use Chesapeake seasoning and time to get a taste of this wonderful J.O. Spice seasoning that Jennifer raved about.
Through some experimentation we discovered that the gourmet popcorn products we were working on tasted much better when made with sea salt rather than common iodized salt… and that a finer spice blend would adhere to the popcorn more consistently. With these issues in mind we finally got the opportunity to try J.O. Spice and meet with the owners of the company, Don and Ginger Ports. I shared with them my experiences with using other Chesapeake spice blends and my desire to create a better tasting, better seasoned and overall more consistent product that would represent our beloved taste of Maryland.
By the end of our meeting, Don and Ginger agreed to produce a custom blend of their J.O. Spice to our specifications, with sea salt, that would take our Chesapeake Peanut Crunch and Maryland Crab Feast Crunch to the level of quality and taste that we were looking for… and they delivered! The difference in taste and quality were obvious and we knew immediately that our gourmet popcorn products would be made with J.O. Spice from here on.
You won’t find J.O. Spice in every grocery store, but in Maryland you can count on finding it in the crab houses and seafood restaurants that feature the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay, because J.O. Spice is the overwhelming choice for those who know how our crabs and seafood should taste.
Count us at CrunchDaddy Popcorn among those in the know, as we are proud to represent the state of Maryland by using J.O. Spice on our gourmet popcorn!
Here’s your chance to witness the CrunchDaddy Kitchen in action!!
How many times do we hear companies tout that a certain product is “New and Improved”, only to find out that it really doesn’t taste or perform any better or any worse than it already had?
Well, dear friends… We at CrunchDaddy Popcorn are proud and excited to tell you that we’ve been hard at work to improve one of our classic, original savory flavors, White Cheddar & Horseradish Crunch. At long last, we’ve nailed it!!
“But if it’s classic and original, why mess with it?”
The truth is that while we love cheddar cheese on our popcorn and go crazy for horseradish, we have had a terrible time sourcing horseradish that has just the right taste to make this flavor a winner on a regular basis. Horseradish lovers crave the fiery sensation that it brings to the palate… and when blended with fine cheddar cheese it can be heavenly.
Unfortunately, horseradish can also be terribly bitter when not processed properly. Perhaps it has to do with the region in where it is grown, the soil, the moisture or other factors that only a horseradish expert would know. All we know is that the taste of the horseradish that we purchase for CrunchDaddy Popcorn varies wildly. The inconsistent quality has made it terribly difficult to produce a product with the flavor and heat that our customers demand and without the medicinal bitterness that horseradish can bring.
Frankly, it’s been maddening… to the point that we nearly discontinued the product!
Yet, we love challenges… and we don’t give up that easily! Thus, we decided to approach the flavor in an entirely different way. Per customer demands, we knew we needed more of that classic horseradish HEAT, the kind that wakes your taste buds and makes your eyes water just a bit!! Beyond that, we needed a more consistent quality of horseradish that was free of the bitterness that was too familiar to us.
After some research, consultation with a horseradish expert (by luck!) and some late night experiments in the CrunchDaddy test kitchen, we’re proud to tell you that White Cheddar & Horseradish Crunch has evolved… Truly “New and Improved”, with all of the great taste and zesty spice that our customers have asked of us! This flavor is one that deserves a place at your next cocktail party!!
CrunchDaddy Popcorn opened for business at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2012. Today we are celebrating the completion of our first six months in the gourmet popcorn business! I’m awed and amazed by the entire experience!
Opening a small business like CrunchDaddy Popcorn means taking a jumbled mess of ideas, distilling them, organizing them as best you can and then executing them in such a way as to bring those ideas to life in the form of a tangible product that people will enjoy. In my case, the fundamentals of CrunchDaddy Popcorn were formed in my mind back in 2007. Reluctance, uncertainty and fear of venturing out into the world of entrepreneurship kept me from marching ahead with those ideas. Thankfully in early 2011 I found the will and determination to give these ideas and dreams the treatment that they deserved. I’m so happy that I did!
Throughout 2011 I also found endless ways to forestall the execution of my ideas for CrunchDaddy Popcorn. I knew very well the failure rate that is associated with start-ups and wanted to do everything humanly possible to insulate myself and my business from any such failures… and I did it to the point of delaying the opening of the business until each and every possible scenario and contingency had been predicted, accounted for and planned for.
I have a close group of friends who act as business mentors, advisers and a marketing coach. One friend in particular was keen on seeing the “big picture” and observing my behavior. Several times a week I would send him an email of some popcorn flavor idea, a widget I discovered on-line or some fragment of a marketing idea that I could use for the business I had yet to open. His usual response was, “That’s great. When are you gonna make some popcorn?”
In his kind and indirect way, my friend was nudging me to stop seeking solutions for every potential issue that I could face and simply to “Do it!”, as the Nike ads say. His previous experience as a business owner had taught him what I now understand as an entrepreneur of only six months: Experience is the best teacher. It is impossible to predict and prepare for all of the learning experiences that you will encounter once you execute your plan.
With only half a year of experience under my belt in running CrunchDaddy Popcorn I am reluctant to wax philosophically or speak as though I am qualified to mentor others in their business pursuits. However, I can admit to having a much greater understanding and appreciation for the wisdom found through reading books on entrepreneurship and listening to the wisdom of those with experience. For someone who has compiled pages upon pages of ideas, notes, product catalogs, logo ideas and research materials, the mantra of “just do it” sounds like a load of inspirational nonsense written for the sake of selling books. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur let me assure you that it’s not.
Experience is your best teacher.
After six months I’m proud to tell you that CrunchDaddy Popcorn is a success! We’ve been truly blessed by the enthusiastic response to our products by customers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The worst fear when going into a business like this is, “What if people don’t like it? What if no one buys it?” I knew within a matter of weeks after opening that those fears were not to be realized. To the contrary, we’ve been blown away by the efforts made by our fans to spread the word to other people, to share our products and to re-post and re-tweet our messages. We even have a core group of CrunchDaddy fanatics who have become repeat customers three or four times over! No amount of pre-opening business planning and number crunching could ever account for this kind of organic growth. We’re truly awed and humbled by all of it.
We are especially grateful to each and every one of you who have shown support for CrunchDaddy Popcorn. No matter how big or successful this venture becomes, I will never lose my appreciation and fascination for the fact that so many people have entrusted us to provide them with products and experiences that are of value to them. There would be no CrunchDaddy Popcorn were it not for you. Take a bow, raise a glass and know that you’re part of a special group of people.
We plow ahead into the second half of our first year with more enthusiasm than ever! A round of several new flavors will be announced shortly as well as some new packaging options. CrunchDaddy Popcorn will soon be available for wholesale distribution as well. Wholesale marketing is something completely new for us, but we’re moving ahead with it and looking forward to many lessons learned. Just do it!
Take care and God Bless!
Chief Crunch Officer