by PAUL BICKLEY
Now located at 122 S. College, PopKorn! Kernels with a Twist offers over 30 sweet and savory popcorn varieties flavored with real foods like cheeses, peppers, nuts, and banana chips. Two flavors are vegan, and 80% of PopKorn! products are gluten free.
Owner Virginia Githiri, a self-avowed foodie, says she got the idea for PopKorn! during trips to Chicago, where she saw stand-alone popcorn shops.
“I like to eat, and popcorn is one of my favorite snacks,” Githiri says. “I wanted to try that but with a really tasty product I could call gourmet.”
Githiri launched PopKorn! in Madison, Indiana, in 2007. She moved the business to Bloomington in 2016 and did well enough to open a storefront on East Kirkwood. Soon thereafter, PopKorn! was recruited to a new space in College Mall.
Githiri hopes her move to the South College location will help PopKorn! build a customer base of both long- term patrons and new buyers, offering more of what she calls “uncommitted customers”—working people, shoppers, and students just passing by.
PopKorn! sells online, in-store, and wholesale. The popcorn is crafted at the One World KitchenShare commercial kitchen in Bloomington. Bestselling flavors are Midwest Delight (cheddar and caramel), White Cheddar, Rich Sour Cream and Onion, Celebration (white chocolate with sprinkles), and Get Buzzed (caramel with dark-chocolate drizzle). Holiday favorites include Peppermint Wonderland and Hot Chocolate. “New flavors just come to me,” Githiri says. “And sometimes a customer will suggest something.”