Several winters ago, in their kitchen in Vincennes, Ind., Amy and Chris Bruggeman whipped up batches of homemade caramel corn as holiday gifts for friends and family. “It was something we could make that was easy,” Amy says, “and people enjoyed it.” A coworker of Chris’s, in fact, enjoyed it so much that he encouraged the couple to turn the sweet treat into a business venture. This spring, the Bruggemans celebrated the one-year anniversary of Pop Around the Clock, their gourmet popcorn shop in Vincennes.
The base for the store’s 50-plus flavors is Weaver brand popcorn, grown by farmers around the nation, including one near Washington, Ind. All the flavors come from the couple’s original recipes and use only real ingredients— no artificial flavors, preservatives, or store-bought mixes.
While the Bruggemans both work full-time jobs outside the store (Chris works for Anderson Merchandisers, a media distribution company that sells music, books, and videos to Wal-Mart stores; and Amy is employed with Halter Tree Service, a utility line clearance company), they find time to tinker with new recipes. This spring, while mixing a batch of Cinn-A-Bun popcorn (which includes cinnamon, butter, vanilla, and pecans with a white chocolate drizzle), the lid flew off a container of cinnamon that Chris was shaking into the kettle. To compensate, he left out the nuts and bagged the popcorn. The next morning, his sister-in-law tasted it and declared, “This tastes like snickerdoodle cookies.” The Bruggemans agreed, and added the flavor into Pop Around the Clock’s regular inventory.
From the traditional (kettle corn and cheese) to the unusual (Mexican mocha and white chocolate strawberry), Pop Around the Clock’s creations are popping up around the globe. Customers have mailed bags to soldiers in Iraq. A local businessman has shipped the popcorn to his family in Taiwan, and exchange students from France and Germany have brought it home to their families.
The success reinforces the Bruggemans’ belief in their concept. “You’re never totally confident,” Chris admits, but as the couple researched the popcorn business before opening their store, they learned the industry’s two biggest names — Redenbacher and Weaver — had launched careers during the Great Depression. “We’re not selling a big-ticket item,” Chris says, “but we’re selling something unique, good, and wholesome. I like to say popcorn is the original whole-grain snack.”
Pop Around the Clock:
1725 Hart St., Vincennes, Ind.
Online ordering available at www.poparoundtheclock.net