Popcorn is a family affair for Michael and Ann Wilson.
They bought What’s Poppin’ Kettle Corn, in 2019 and run the Mesa business with their son and daughter.
“My son Brandon worked events with a gentleman who owned the kettle corn company,” said Ann Wilson, who still has a full-time IT job but pops corn on the weekends.
“I saw this business and something clicked in my head that’s something I’d like to do,” she explained. “A few years later, the business came up for sale. The man offered it to my son so we bought it as a family. We’ve been going ever since and trying to keep busy.”
Michael Wilson has no prior popcorn experience but, he said, “It looked fun. I don’t know what I liked about it but I thought, ‘I’d like to do that.’ It just all fell into place. I love doing it.”
In addition to school events once in a while, the family primarily sells their kettle corn at farmers’ markets – mainly at Made with Love Market in Gilbert, at Mesa Arts Center and At the Ranch at Val Vista and Riggs in Gilbert. They’re also popping away at Main Street Harvest in downtown Mesa.
In addition, the family does corporate events and travels around the state.
They can do favors, popcorn bars, and personalized packaging.
“We’re trying to spread out,” said Wilson. “We’re trying to get our name out and get to as many places as we can.”
Daughter Lindsay Richardson handles social media, answers emails, goes to events and takes photos.
“It’s fun for me because I’m a stay-at-home mom in Queen Creek,” Richardson said. “So, getting out and doing events in farmers markets and talking to people and making friends with other vendors is a lot of fun.”
The snack appeals to just about all diets.
“We are nut-free, we’re soy-free, we’re gluten-free and we’re vegan-friendly,” explained Wilson. “We use corn oil, popping corn, sugar, and a dash of salt after it’s all been popped in the kettle.”
Kettle corn has a hint of caramel. “That’s the sugar caramelizing on the corn but it’s not so heavy,” according to Wilson.
“It’s a really popular item. People really love kettle corn and come back specifically for ours when we’re at events.”
The family pops and hand-stirs the kettle corn on-site at events in a kettle that looks like a big wok. It takes five minutes to make a batch and roughly another five minutes to bag it up, depending on the size.
“People who know us prefer us,” said Richardson. “People are really picky about their kettle corn, I’ve learned.”
The corn comes from a local vendor who gets it from Illinois.
“The type of corn we use is a specific type of corn and it makes it fluffy with the right amount of crunch,” Richardson explained. “It just melts in your mouth. Customers pick up on that and they come back. There is a difference in the quality of the corn.”
Eventually, the business might expand into other flavors but for now, the focus is on getting a second popper so they can do two events on a weekend.
Information: whatspoppinkettlecornaz.com, 480-277-4584