Popcorn lovers Keith Gispert and Sandra Cox of Brookhaven worked in the medical sales field for many years, traveling the country, where they would specifically visit popcorn shops to try out some of their favorite snack.
“We both remember being in a shop, looking at each other and saying, ‘We can do this,’” Gispert said.
And so they are doing it. Popcorn Palooza was created in 2014 and now has a brick-and-mortar spot at 5071 Peachtree Blvd., Suite 350, in Chamblee, just over the Brookhaven border, where they sell dozens of flavors such as Parmesan garlic, red velvet, white cheddar, cotton candy and many more.
The storefront is only open on Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. because most of the business currently caters specifically to corporate and special events.
Gispert answered the following questions about their business.
Q: What inspired you to go into gourmet popcorn?
A: [Sandra and I] were both were in the medical sales field for many years. We had the opportunity to travel many places and tried several different popcorn shops. We both remember being in a shop, looking at each other and saying, “We can do this…” Here we are several years later.
Q: How do you come up with the different flavors? What is involved in the process?
A: We come up with different flavors through experimentation. There have only been a couple of flavors we tried that did not work to our liking, but nearly everything has worked out well. We have our core offerings at this point, but can always make other flavors for special occasions. Some people request special flavors for events, weddings, etc.
We use commercial equipment for everything. Our process is different for our savory flavors versus our sweet/chocolate flavors. The savory flavors are an easier process, where we combine blends of cheeses and spices in a large commercial mixing bowl that turns and combines everything. The amounts of cheeses and spices has all been trial and error to get to the flavor profile we feel is best. The one thing we pride ourselves on is not using powder cheeses. The taste of our product versus a powder cheese popcorn is rather evident.
The sweet and chocolate flavors are made by mixing everything in our large commercial equipment. The ingredients go in the heat kettle and it is a longer process. Again, we have tried many varieties/amounts of certain ingredients we combine to get to the final product.
We definitely go with flavor combinations that we know work, like peanut butter and milk chocolate, hot wings and blue cheese, etc. We both love cooking shows and have gathered ideas by flavor combinations we see on Food Network. Lots of trial and error to get to where we are.
Q: How is the gourmet popcorn business doing overall? Is it gaining in popularity, and if so, why?
A: The business is doing well. There was definitely a learning curve over the first couple of years. We feel like we have figured out the best model for us and things are growing. Our product speaks for itself. People seem to love our product and we take pride in that. We value our loyal customers and look forward to growing our business in 2018.
Q: Do you eat concession stand popcorn when you go to the movies?
A: I have always purchased popcorn when attending the movies. Sandra would eat it sometimes, but not all of the time. Popcorn and the movies, the two just go together. I would not be telling the truth if I said we never bring our own popcorn to the movies. Let’s just say it has snuck itself in a time or 20.
Q: Can you eat regular popcorn anymore? Or are you tired of popcorn when “off the clock” and like to eat other fun snacks?
A: We do eat regular popcorn here and there, but prefer to eat something we have created. People always ask us if we are tired of it, but we simply have too many options and flavor profiles to get sick of it. We definitely have our favorite snacks/treats. We are both on the same page when we say our favorite snacks outside of popcorn are donuts for me and ice cream for Sandra, but we definitely limit those treats.
Q: Why locate in Chamblee?
A: Chamblee is growing like crazy. There is a ton of development and great places coming to the community. We really enjoy the people and this location is rather convenient to where we live in neighboring Brookhaven.
Q: Who buys gourmet popcorn?
A: Many people buy gourmet popcorn. We like to say our age demographic ranges from about age 3 to 90 years old. The key point with our product is getting people to try it. I can say with great confidence that it is nearly impossible for someone to not really enjoy at least one flavor we offer. We truly have something for everyone. Oreo, caramel sea salt, parmesan garlic, peanut butter milk chocolate, Hotlanta con limon (a cheese blend with lime and hot spices), white chocolate pretzel and more. There is something for everyone. We have broken into the corporate world pretty well and that makes up a large portion of our clients. This is a great and fun option for employee appreciation, catering events, weddings and parties.