Archive for January, 2011
Kristy’s and I were in Boulder CO a few years ago and came across this amazing peanut butter at the local farmer’s market. Justin’s Nut Butter was a smaller company then and the owner, Justin Gold, was serving a variety of nut butters from a stand at the market.
A quick recap on this experiment: I cut the top off of a regular microwave popcorn bag so I could really see what was happening. You can see the susceptor really working in the video as quickly boils the oil. For more info read the original post…and the rest of the blog!
Foremost we want to emphasize that out product is natural, and unmolested. Microwave popcorn currently feels manufactured and synthetic while ours should feel cultivated and pure.
Quinn Popcorn should feel fun but also sophisticated. A bit of a dichotomy I know. We don’t want to be the Doritos of the popcorn isle but, then again, microwave popcorn shouldn’t be serious. It’s is a treat often enjoyed socially, with friends, family, and/or children.
Our popcorn should feel accessible to anyone, yet it should also be seen as a treat, a small luxury. This is tricky because it shouldn’t feel like a high end tea or chocolate. It shouldn’t seem precious. Microwave popcorn is devoured rather than savored and we want to keep it that way.
So I did some research and found that there are three main ways to extract oils from plants and it is important! How the oil is extracted really does matter.
You may have noticed the different oil options that are available to you on the shelves of your super market, specialty store, etc, etc. Canola oil, for example, might say, “expeller pressed” or “cold pressed” on the bottle. Or it might just say “canola oil”.
So at this point, I have a love hate relationship with it. Every time I test a flavor, I make a full bag of popcorn to test it with. You would think after a couple of handfuls I would be able to put it down. Nope. I can’t even stop eating it even if I find the flavor horrible! I eat the entire bag…. every time. As much as I love popcorn, I don’t want to end up looking like a puffed kernel.
There are just a couple other topics we need to tackle… Things like brand development, graphic design, launch plan, product pricing, distribution, fulfillment, co-packaging, popping yield, user testing, nutrition info, upc codes, brokers, demos, promotions, marketing, etc.
For all those butter lovers out there, we are not going to be using butter in any of our flavors. I just wanted to get that out there. That said, we will be using oil, and the GOOD, flavorful ones!
I know I have already said this but we need the bag to be distinct. The bag is something that all other brands share. Our bag should be a part of our brand standing apart. It should reinforce the notion that we are reinventing microwave popcorn.
I received peanut flour from a farm in Georgia today. I am A. really excited to try our Honey & Peanut Butter flavor and B. really excited to bake some gluten -free chocolate chip cookies.
We began testing this flavor with regular peanut butter. We mixed it with canola oil over the stove and then poured it on top of the popped kernels. This resulted in a gooey mess, which is fun, but not really appealing. We also used regular honey. This didn’t work at all. The honey fell right off the kernels.
After nagging and hounding about using dry ingredients, Coulter finally gave in, and I was able to purchase 100% dehydrated honey powder, and roasted peanut flour. Both ingredients covered the kernels really well. They only thing, since the flour is pretty dry to begin with, we don’t want to use a lot of it because it becomes cakey and pretty much sticks to the roof of your mouth. We also found that you need to use a lot of it because the flavor gets lost in the honey. So, that said, I am on the hunt for peanut flour that really pops. I have found that there are 4 different options for us: A light roast at 12%, a dark roast at 12%, a light roast at 28%, and a dark roast at 28%. The darker roast is a stronger flavor, but I hear that it can be a bit bitter. I have not tasted this myself, so can’t say yet.
More to come when I have this all figured out!
We want to avoid coatings such as plastic, wax, or silicones that are needed to make regular paper grease proof. Remember that we are applying oil to the bag as part of the prep process. The oil would soak right through a plain paper bag leaving your hands covers and probably ripping the bag.
Glassine is a paper product that you are probably familiar with but the by a different name, parchment paper. Unlike paper, glassine is naturally grease proof; no coatings needed. Essentially glassine is paper that has been run though a series of rollers that smash the wood fibers into alignment in a process called supercalendering. This rolling and pressing give the paper its semi-clear and grease resistance properties.
I not only took about 20 pages of notes, but was also able to take home a CD of all the presentation material. I also have a new understanding of what a sales manager does. Because at the end of the day, no matter how good your product is, you have to be able to sell it. I need to become an effect sales manager on top of creating this food start up. I knew that, but now I am able to do this, or at least have information on how to do this.
The founder of Q Tonic, the new manager of Lesser Evil Snack Foods, and the co-founders of Chozen, an all natural ice cream company based in Brooklyn, were all there. The best part, I felt like I wasn’t alone in this crazy food industry. I actually have “friends” who are doing the same thing that we are doing; trying to make an existing product, better, and trying to sell it. It was very comforting.