Cashmere Gourmet Popcorn

(Frank) Today on Around Kansas, we are going to go Around Kansas to Topeka our home base and we are going to talk to the folks that make Cashmere Gourmet Popcorn, but before we do that lets talk a little bit about the history of popcorn. We will do that when we come back.Closed Captioning brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission.
The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Frank) Cashmere Gourmet Popcorn is who we are going to visit today, but before we do that I found it interesting that archaeologist have found
80,000 year-old corn pollen below Mexico City. Because this pollen is
almost exactly the same as modern popcorn pollen, researchers believe that “cave people” mostly liked popcorn, can you believe that? The oldest
popcorn ever found was discovered in the “Bat Cave” of central New Mexico. It is thought to be over 5,000 years old. In tombs of Peru, archaeologists found ancient kernels of popcorn that were so well preserved that they can still pop. Europeans leaned about popcorn from the Native Americans. When Cortes invaded Mexico, and when Columbus arrived in the West Indies, each saw natives eating popcorn, as well as using it in necklaces and headdresses. Here is something interesting, Native Americans brought a bag of popcorn to the first Thanksgiving, we know they brought corn, but now we know they brought popcorn. A common way to eat popcorn at the time was to hold an oiled ear on a stick over the fire, then chew the popped kernels off of it. Natives throughout the Americas also made popcorn beer and popcorn soup. Okay in the 1890’s popcorn popularity really began to burst, pardon the pun. The Albert Dickinson Company of Odebolt, Iowa seems to be the first company, their brands of popcorn were called Big Buster and Little Buster. The first popcorn machine was invented by Charles Cretors in Chicago in 1885. In order to test his machine he had to set it outside
because well it was too large to sit anywhere else and it ran on gasoline
if you can believe that. Today much of the popcorn you buy at the movies
and fairs is popped in poppers made by the Cretors family. We’ll be back in a moment.

(Frank) One more note before we go visit the factory…with the opening of
movie theaters across the nation early in the 20th century, popcorn became a part of new excitement. During the depression years of 1929 to 1939, popcorn was one of the few luxuries down on their luck families could afford. While other businesses failed, the popcorn business thrived. So popcorn has been around for 80,000 years. Now lets find out how Cashmere Gourmet make popcorn so really, really delicious now…in fact I’m going to join you and I’m going to have a little Cashmere Popcorn as we watch this.

(Frank)Today we’re at Cashmere Gourmet Popcorn. Products that are made in Topeka, products that are made in Kansas. Come on along. Let’s go Around Kansas and enjoy some gourmet popcorn. Today is a fun day on Around Kansas because we’re in well, I’m going to call it the Bat Cave because to get to this secret kitchen for Cashmere Gourmet Popcorn, if you’ve never been here before you’re never going to find it anyway unless you have a guide. But this is the secret kitchen of Cashmere Gourmet Popcorn and we have the owners Cashmere Gourmet Popcorn and they’re going to tell us, number one, how did you guys get started in making popcorn? (Bill) Well, I guess it all started back when years and years ago Angie would make it for Christmas time just for a holiday treat for us around the house. And from then on, it kind of well, I’ve got lymphoma cancer and we were doing the Relay for Life Cancer Walk for years and through that process after selling cookies and everything else trying to raise money for the relay, we decided we’d start producing this gourmet popcorn and selling it out of my work. (Frank) So, Angie are these your recipes? (Angie) They are recipes, in which we started with tort (?) to fit our needs, I changed, took from some, left out some, added mix and come up with something special. (Frank) So essentially Cashmere Gourmet Popcorn started in the family kitchen? (Angie) Absolutely.
(Frank) And it’s still a family business, am I correct there? (Angie) Yes,
we Bill and I… the girls help all summer long… produce, so usually it’s
the four of us. But during the school season it basically Bill and I that
produces, bags, weighs, sacks and delivers the popcorn. The girls do work
events, one of which is Farmer’s Markets which starts up April 12, so they
will working that event. But that is how during school year their
contribution is that they actually work at the booths and sell the popcorn.
(Frank) OK And I am assuming because it is so very tasty then the
business began to expand because people said, “I want some, can I get some more?” is this kind of the way it went? (Angie) That is kind of the way it went because when we first started this, we strictly started it as a fund raising options for schools, ball teams, organizations to have something fun and new- different to fund raise with that is also local, and as that progressed people stated, “I don’t want to just be able to buy this when somebody comes to my door. You’ve got to be able to have this accessible some more.” So then that spun into our website at www.cashmerepopcorn.com and we do, like I said local vendor events, and we are kind of expanding a little bit out of the Topeka market in our vendor events as well. (Frank) We are going to take a look at how you do all of this too. And then we are going to talk about why it is a gourmet popcorn. We’ll be back.

(Frank) OK We’re back and of course, like we say we are at Cashmere
Gourmet Popcorn today and in their secret kitchen. So let’s talk about how
it’s made. Except, there is one secret step that you take that really sets
this apart and we won’t show anybody that. Kind of like Colonel Sanders you know secret herbs and spices. But anyway, let’s talk about the process.
Let’s see how it’s really made so good. (Bill) First of all, we use all
exceptional quality ingredients, anything you can get from the store we use right in our products, we don’t us any processed ingredients. we make it truly an old fashioned way and it pays off in the taste. Where we chop up all our own pecans, we do it all ourselves because if you try to use a
processor it will just turn them to dust so we’ve got to chop them up and we incorporate pretzels, rice cereal in our Pecan Delight. We cook it at a
temperature, at the right temperature to where it doesn’t overcook it and
still allows all the flavors to really taste good. (Frank) So, it’s not the
garden variety you might say if you went to the grocery store and bought
Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn. It’s not necessarily the same thing. So there really is a science behind it. (Frank) Now, you guys are also… you do get some advice from Kansas State University? (Angie) Yes, we work closely with K-State on our labeling, our nutritional facts. K-State is a phenomenal resource for any small business especially food processor/manufacturer to work with their knowledge is from here to eternity and wonderful people up there. They also do food testing, shelf life testing, which a lot of people don’t know much about that, but that’s another thing that they offer up at K-State. There is some funding that is received from the Land of Kansas, Department of Ag, and that’s… they work very well together for companies like Bill and myself. (Bill) Yeah, it was invaluable, Dr. Fadi Aramouni has been a supporter of us the whole way. (Frank) When we come back we’ll talk about the Land of Kansas.

(Frank) We’re back and of course again, we are at Cashmere Gourmet Popcorn today and let’s talk about a little bit about your involvement with Land of Kansas. I don’t think there are a lot of people that may want to start a business and it’s agriculturally oriented, they don’t know really where to start, so tell us a little bit about that. (Angie) We were real lucky to pretty much start with the Land of Kansas from the beginning. They have been able to give us resources and referrals to places that might be able to help us. One of which I think is invaluable is… we are still such a
small company, that we have had so many people encourage us to present our product at the Fancy Food Show in New York. That really financially is not feasible for us at the level in which we are, but the Land of Kansas this
year has obtained a pavilion to feature some of their Kansas businesses in, which give us the opportunity to get our product to New York City to be sampled by, you know, a hundred thousand people will be in attendance of this event. So, we’ll be able to do that, because of the cost share
program that they’re… that’s available since they’ve got the pavilion and
they’ll do smaller spots in there for pavilion companies such as Cashmere.
And then we’ll also be able…we are scheduled to actually meet a person
experienced with buyers that do exporting. Talking about and starting to
look into exporting Cashmere Popcorn, not just selling it domestically, but
also looking into the international market. Because the international
market is actually very huge when it comes to Kansas products because when people think of the U.S. they really think of Kansas a lot of times, so
that’s kind of exciting. (Frank) Wow, all right. We’ll be back.

(Frank) Let’s talk about flavor. I know you had mentioned one time, that
sometimes customers will say “Hey, could you make this?” and you go,” Hmmm, well let’s see.” (Angie) That is something, kind of how we’ve developed a lot of our flavors. Of course, when we started, we actually did just start with the batch that we made this morning, which would have been the Pecan Delight, and then a lot of our recipes are produced specifically because customers asked. (Frank) OK. We have all kinds of flavors so, instead all of naming all of them, how many different flavors do you have? (Bill) Thank you. I didn’t want to have to remember them all. Currently, we have 13 that we sell. We’ve got a new flavor that we just created. We haven’t even produced a label and started officially selling it. It’s going to be a cinnamon toast honey flavor, it’s a white sugar recipe. We haven’t really come up with a name yet. We also got, with the help of K-State, Dr. Fadi, we are going to be producing a sugar free, fat free caramel corn we’re really excited about. We just got the recipe and we’re going to start trying to experiment around, find out what good flavors we can make out of that as well. (Frank) All right, we’ll be back. (Frank) O.K. We know now that there are a lot of flavors and it’s really wonderful so now, the key
question is where can someone get it? (Angie) We have two spots that they can get all 13 of the current flavors available, that would be… one would be Crafty Crafters and it’s located on North Topeka Boulevard. And then the other location is Barb’s Country Barn and it’s located on South Topeka Boulevard. I strategically placed those so no matter what side of town somebody lived at it wouldn’t be too inconvenient to get a bag of Cashmere Popcorn. But those are the only two locations in town that carry all of our flavors. (Frank) And you can, also of course go online right and see the various products and place an order there and of course it is a great fund raiser product, as well as for personal use. Let’s talk the future of the
company. Where are you going with this? (Bill) Well, this was actually, my vision of it is that it could be something we could leave for our children if they choose to carry this business on. It’s not something we started as
a get rich quick scheme by any means because the equipment is so expensive. Along the way, I understand we are probably in the building years of this company and I am O.K. with that. From what I see in the industry being able to produce this quality high end gourmet product, with the equipment and technologies out there to take it all the way to the industrial level, and that’s where I would eventually like to see this grow is beyond just a small commercial kitchen to industrial size. I am quite comfortable working around industrial sized equipment, I do it every day at my other job, so if we can manage to fund this company and keep it growing and the technology is out there to take this all the way, as far as I’m concerned. (Frank) You mentioned you’re going to be in New York so I would imagine that you kind of hope to take your product not only locally but statewide, regionally, internationally. Is this a dream? (Angie) I think it is a dream. I think it’s all in God’s timing, to know what’s best for us at what time. But I think both our expectations on going to New York is it’s more about the experience and knowing what the future might… what might be in store for Cashmere in the future, I don’t think either one of us expect to maybe walk away with a contract or but it’s just baby stepping, in the direction in which we want Cashmere to go. (Frank) So, we’ll help them out here, ask for it at your local grocer, then they have to order it. I see a big basket of popcorn sitting over here, I’m going to take it. Cashmere Gourmet Popcorn, it’s been fun. Thank you guys. (Angie and Bill) Thanks. You’re welcome.
(Frank) Like I said this one’s mine. See you.

Closed Captioning brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission.
The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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