Business Is Popping

By Judy Sherard
The Hays Daily News, Kan.

Popt! is no ordinary popcorn.

It’s gourmet popcorn with a flavor and color twist.

Bonnie Olson owns and operates the gourmet popcorn business that offers approximately 50 flavors of the popular snack.

Olson, originally from Hays, moved home from Arizona a year ago.

“I’ve always been an entrepreneur and was looking for a business to start here,” she said.

Olson also loves to cook, and the idea of gourmet popcorn came up while she was talking to Cerv’s owner Russ Pfannenstiel.

“He always has neat things with his convenience stores,” Olson said.

She did some research and found a company in Dallas that trains people to make gourmet popcorn.

“It’s not a franchise, (but) they give you the recipe and connections to vendors and spices,” she said.

Olson attended the two-day training, and Pfannenstiel made space for the popcorn business at the back of the Cerv’s at 1601 Main.

Olson said plans call for a large display rack to be added under the business sign. The other Cerv’s locations also offer the bagged popcorn.

It’s a perfect mix of entrepreneurship and cooking for Olson.

The list of savory flavors include cheese, ranch, dill pickle, jalapeno, spicy buffalo and bacon cheddar.

Caramels are available in regular, extra buttery or with peanuts. Other sweet treats are the chocolate versions — milk chocolate, dark chocolate, cheesecake, and cookies and cream.

Specialty flavors include Mountain Dew, Cherry Pepsi and Dr. Pepper.

“Cherry Pepsi and Mountain Dew are very popular,” Olson said. “The cinnamon red hots (flavor) is moving like crazy.”
Popcorn lovers aren’t limited to the menu.

“If you ask for it, I can find a way to make it,” Olson said.

Popcorn lovers have several options from mini to party size — 242 cups of popcorn. Prices vary depending on the variety.

Olson said she’s focusing on mini bags to give shoppers a chance to try the different flavors. Once they try a flavor, they move up to a larger bag.

The popcorn is made fresh every morning at the Main Street location, then the flavors are added.

Olson pops 48 ounces of popcorn at a time, and a grate in the machine filters out the seeds that don’t pop.

Two part-time employees help with popping and bagging the product.

Though she’s only been open a short time, business is going well. She plans to begin offering popcorn tins and gift baskets for any occasion, and even wedding color-coordinated bags for weddings and showers.

“It’s a lot of fun making it. I like feeding people,” Olson said.

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