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What is Gourmet Popcorn?

The term “gourmet popcorn” covers a lot of ground. In a nutshell, it’s any popcorn that isn’t the traditional butter flavor. Two of the most popular popcorn flavors of all time are kettle corn and caramel corn. Yet, now there are many sweet and savory varieties of gourmet popcorn including cheddar cheese to chocolate to jalapeño and more. Advancements in equipment and supplies have made the process of creating gourmet popcorn easier than ever with candy glazes, shake-on flavors, and cheese pastes.

Types of Gourmet Popcorn Equipment

Each piece of equipment plays a pivotal role in the production and sale of gourmet popcorn. Here’s a brief overview of the basic popcorn equipment we recommend:

  • Commercial Popcorn Machine: The popper is the heart of any popcorn business. Designed to handle higher volumes of popcorn, they have larger kettle sizes and may include features such as popcorn crisping systems or heated oil lines.
  • Cooker Mixer: Cooker mixers (also known as coaters or caramelizers) combine heat with a stirring mechanism to cook and mix popcorn evenly. These are ideal for producing large batches of caramel corn.
  • Tumbler: Tumblers allow you to gently toss popcorn to evenly distribute flavors. This helps in achieving a uniform taste and texture across all your popcorn. These are used for cheese popcorn or shake-on flavors.
  • Table: Utilized for cooling the popcorn and production space, popcorn tables can give you added efficiency in your operation.
  • Popcorn Merchandiser, Staging Cabinet, or Popcorn Warmer: Display your popcorn in style! Staging cabinets are made to keep popcorn warm and crisp until it’s ready to be served.
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Top Recommended Equipment for Gourmet Popcorn Shops

The best commercial gourmet popcorn equipment is found at Gold Medal. From cooker mixers to tumblers, tables, and staging cabinets, your shop will be well equipped to create the best-tasting gourmet popcorn flavors. The right equipment means more efficient and effective production of kettle corn, caramel corn, cheese popcorn, and other flavors. For reliability, user-friendlieness, and peak performance, browse our gourmet popcorn shop equipment today.

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Top Recommended Equipment Accessories for Gourmet Popcorn Shops

Get all the essential gourmet popcorn equipment accessories from Gold Medal. Our bases, merchandisers, and tables are all made for the maximum gourmet popcorn production capabilities. Create a top-performing setup that is customized for your unique needs. Our commercial popcorn equipment and accessories work together to create a highly efficient workspace for your gourmet popcorn shop.

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Top Recommended Supplies for Gourmet Popcorn Shops

The best-tasting popcorn comes from the best popcorn supplies! With Gold Medal, you’ll find the kits, mixes, and flavors you need to create delicious gourmet popcorn. From our signature recipe for kettle corn to our large collection of popcorn flavorings, caramel corn concentrates, and more, you’ll find the highest quality of products for making the finest gourmet popcorn.

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Why Choosing Gold Medal’s Concession Equipment and Supplies is a Smart Decision for Gourmet Popcorn Shops

Gold Medal equipment and supplies are trusted by gourmet popcorn shops worldwide for their quality, reliability, and performance. With over 90 years of industry experience, we are committed to providing innovative solutions that meet the needs of our customers. We’ve worked with gourmet popcorn shops of all sizes and we have the knowledge and experience to help you be a success.

 

Starting Your Gourmet Popcorn Shop Business

Before you get to creating recipes and selling fun flavors, you’ve got to start with the logistics of your operation. While it can seem overwhelming at first, doing your homework will be rewarding in the end.

Choosing a Location for Your Gourmet Popcorn Shop

Where to sell will depend a lot on your budget, as well as other restrictions.

Your four main options include:

  • Store front icon

    Opening a storefront

    An actual physical shop is the option that requires the most overhead to get started. Rent will be a big expense, as well as décor and displays. However, this choice gives you a strong and credible business presence. You’ll want to find a location that you’re certain will have consistent foot traffic.

  • Computer screen with shopping cart icon

    Selling online

    When starting out in the gourmet popcorn business, ecommerce should be considered a supplement to your in-person sales. Online competition is fierce, and it’s unlikely that you would garner enough customers through search alone. Instead, use ecommerce as another channel for selling once you’ve established a presence with loyal customers – whether that is through a storefront or mobile unit.

  • Mobile phone icon

    Going mobile

    A cart or kiosk can be a great way to get started without the full investment of a storefront. With options to move to different locations and operate part-time or seasonally, you have more flexibility. From festivals and events to malls, every mobile location has its own benefits. At a mall, you might rent your kiosk from the property manager, but for other ventures, you’ll need to purchase your own cart or trailer.

  • Distribution Truck icon

    Distributing through other businesses

    Distribution requires a significant amount of upfront networking effort. You’ll have to identify businesses such as grocery stores, convenience stores, craft stores, gas stations, and other retailers that are willing to stock your product. In exchange, the vendor will take a cut of profits, so be sure your pricing is set in such a way that you can both make money. Banks, auto dealerships, hospitals, and hotels are other targets as they may offer complimentary popcorn to customers. The benefit of the distribution business model is that it allows you to start out small and grow your business as demand increases.

 
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Who Are Your Customers?

As you think about location, make sure you’re also paying attention to the types of customers who frequent the areas you’re considering. Use surrounding businesses to determine typical income levels of regular visitors and lifestyle and preferences. You’ll need to understand your customers’ needs and thresholds as you establish pricing and products moving forward.

If nearby stores include high-end retailers, you’ll produce and price differently than if your neighbors are discount or bargain stores. In a storefront location, you’ll decorate differently. Even your packaging and labeling will reflect who your customer is – are you marketing toward busy moms and kids or older professionals and seniors? People shopping for personal purchases or primarily corporate gifts?

Spend time observing shopper behavior in the locations you’re choosing to get a good feel for who they are. Compare actual consumers with any plans or ideas you have about your shop and make sure those plans mesh with reality.

Small Business Considerations

Before moving forward with your exciting plans, you’ll need to put some effort into the business side of things. Although it isn’t as fun as creating a menu, securing financing is crucial to get your popcorn shop up and running. You’ll likely need a small business loan, which you can obtain in various ways, whether through a traditional commercial bank, a community bank, online lenders, or others. As you start your search, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney or a knowledgeable friend or family member to help guide you on the right path.

Check into loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. If you’re a woman or belong to a minority population group, do some research to see if you qualify for additional assistance.

Discuss permits, health department inspections, and taxes with your local chamber of commerce representative and your legal and accounting consultants to ensure you understand all the requirements, both financial and regulatory, before diving in.

Tips for Choosing a Supplier for Your Gourmet Popcorn Business

When you’re ready to purchase equipment and supplies for your new popcorn business, it’s a big decision. A lot is riding on the relationship with your suppliers, so there’s pressure to choose wisely. You might think price is the biggest factor, and while you certainly shouldn’t buy equipment you outright can’t afford, if you shop solely for the lowest price, you could end up costing yourself much more later.

Look for quality, reliability, longevity, and expertise in your suppliers.

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Quality


High-quality machines will produce delicious, uniform flavor every time, and with regular maintenance, will last you for the long haul. Lesser-quality equipment can cause headaches like malfunctioning, which costs you time and money. Make sure you trust the value of the machines you invest in.

Reliability


Can you get in touch with your representative from the supplier easily? Do they make themselves available for your questions? You want a supplier who is happy to serve as a resource for your business – someone who can assist you on your journey, not someone who disappears as soon as a sale is made.

Longevity


Do some research on the company and find out how long it’s been in business. If you find that they’re new, you may want to approach the relationship with a healthy bit of skepticism. You want a company that is stable and has been around the block.

Expertise


In the food business, trends change frequently. As you order your supplies, your vendor should be able to advise you on new flavor trends, help with recipe development, and share their knowledge with you to help you succeed. A supplier that produces equipment, as well as food supplies, is especially beneficial to you because they know exactly how the products work together.

 

Gourmet Popcorn Packaging, Pricing, and Marketing Your Products

The final steps in preparing to sell gourmet popcorn include packaging considerations, setting prices, and spreading the word.

Deciding on the Best Type of Packaging


When purchasing gourmet popcorn, customers want to see the product to get an idea of color and texture. Clear packaging, or a simple paper bag with a display window, is almost always the way to go for small servings in a popcorn shop so that the sweet and savory flavors are always prominently on display.

Pre-made and custom-designed gift baskets and tins featuring a variety of flavor options are also a great idea too.

Pricing and Profits


Setting prices is tricky. You want to make a profit, but you don’t want to price yourself out of the market. Since gourmet popcorn profit margins can range from 70-80%, you have some leeway to adjust your pricing to meet the market demand.

 
 
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Get Creative with Gourmet Popcorn Recipes

Begin by mastering your gourmet popcorn equipment and some of the basic recipes, then you can start to branch out more and create your own unique flavors for your business. Popcorn makes a great canvas for flavor and there are so many ways you can be creative with your recipes. For example, imagine creating cotton candy popcorn made with Flossugar. Try mix-ins like candies, dried fruits, marshmallows, or other ingredients. Even make new products, such as popcorn cakes. There’s unlimited potential!

Birthday Cake Popcorn

Kids and adults will adore birthday cake flavored popcorn, with its sweet, colorful sprinkles and rich, cake-like taste that feels like a party in every bite. This fun and festive treat will add extra joy to any celebration.

See Recipe

Green Apple Popcorn

Green apple popcorn bursts with a tangy sweetness that delights your taste buds with every bite. Its vibrant, fruity flavor combined with a satisfying crunch makes it an irresistible snack for any occasion.

See Recipe

Loaded Baked Potato Popcorn

Loaded baked potato flavored popcorn offers a savory explosion of flavors, blending creamy cheese, smoky bacon, and a hint of chives in every bite. This indulgent snack delivers the comforting taste of a loaded baked potato in a delightfully crunchy form.

See Recipe

Garlic Parmesan Popcorn

Garlic parmesan flavored popcorn offers a delightful fusion of robust garlic and creamy parmesan cheese, creating an irresistibly savory snack. Each bite provides a perfect balance of zesty and cheesy flavors, making it a delicious treat for any occasion.

See Recipe
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Featured Videos

  • How To Make Oreo Popcorn for kits – 2901, 2902, 2903

  • How to make Caramel Corn

  • How to make Cheese Popcorn

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Gourmet Popcorn Marketing Ideas

Walk-in visits from people passing by your shop are great, but that’s not enough to sustain your business. How do you sell more popcorn? Try some of these marketing ideas to make sure as many potential customers hear about your shop as possible.

  • Leave business cards and flyers in locations where your target market might frequent, such as coffee shops and grocery stores (with permission of course).
  • Purchase ads in local news publications, social media, and on the radio to announce your opening. Invest in high-quality, high-visibility signage on your store and other nearby locations as available to draw attention.
  • Create a well-designed website that’s easy to use and optimized for local search (a digital marketing agency can help with this if you’ve got the budget).
  • Set up a Google My Business page so potential customers searching on mobile devices can find you.
  • Use social media to support your business. Post pics of your end product, take polls to ask about new flavors, and offer sales or promotions. To create awareness, be consistent in posting and encourage your followers to share your posts.
  • Attend local events like farmer’s markets, festivals, and craft shows. Set up a booth and sell your goods.
  • Partner with other local businesses such as breweries or wineries to host tastings.
  • Support the community and engage potential customers by partnering with a local fundraiser.
  • Visit businesses such as banks, car dealerships, hospitals, and hotels to pitch your products for customer appreciation gifts.
  • Connect with other businesses in your area and email each others’ customer lists with special promotional offers and share posts on social media.
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Expand Your Menu

Once you’ve found your groove with gourmet popcorn, if you’re ready to grow your business, you can start to include more treats. Your imagination is your only limit, but here are some suggestions for types of sweets that fit naturally in a gourmet popcorn shop.

Fudge

An easy, versatile, and delicious addition to your shop, fudge can have profit margins up to 80%. From a fudge base mix, it’s simple to create your own tasty recipes that customers will love, including seasonal specials for holidays like Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas.

Frosted or Glazed Nuts

Especially in the winter months, frosted or glazed nuts can be a big hit with customers. The sweet and crunchy treat goes perfectly with the setting of a popcorn shop, and if you think ahead as you stock your shop and purchase a combo machine, you can make them easily with the same equipment you use for your caramel corn.

Caramel Apples

This nostalgic childhood treat is easy to make satisfying your customers’ cravings and offering you high profit margins. With simple, lower cost primary ingredients, you can set prices that are attractive to customers while still earning great profits. Caramel Apples can be customized in various ways from chocolate drizzle, candies, marshmallows, nuts, cookie crumble and more!

Gourmet Cotton Candy

Specialty flavors like birthday cake, chocolate strawberry, and fall spice, packaged in clear tubs or bags with attractive labeling, can drive high profits for very low cost. You can even experiment with add-ins like sprinkles or crushed cookies, just be sure to stick with very dry ingredients and make each batch to order for maximum freshness.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A - Gold Medal offers a collection of equipment, where your setup can be customized based on your unique needs. A good place to start is with the following items: a 10-gallon low-profile cooker mixer and low-profile cooling table, a 32-oz popper or larger, a tumbler, and Main Street Elite Popcorn Staging Cabinet.


A - For most applications, the 10-gallon size is appropriate. It can produce up to 40 lbs per hour of finished product. The low-profile design is made for comfort and ease of operation, which means greater productivity.


A - The first step to determine if you need a hood is to consult with your local health department. Not all locations require hoods. Certain equipment can mitigate the need for an expensive hood system, such as Gold Medal’s Karmel Klean Hood System, an enclosed recirculating system design.


A - Deciding how much space is needed for a popcorn shop is dependent upon your unique needs. Gold Medal can consult with you and help you build a production plan including an equipment layout.


A - The first batch in a cold kettle requires approximately 20 minutes to cook. On continuous operation, you’ll get approximately a 12-minute dump-to-dump cycle. At about 80 ounces per batch, that’s nearly 25 pounds of popcorn produced per hour.


A - For best performance, steam cleaning is recommended between every 3-4 batches during regular operation. Performing daily and weekly unit cleaning is also advised. Step-by-step instructions for cleaning are included in your equipment manual.


A - There are a number of different recipes for making caramel corn. Gold Medal offers multiple product options so you can choose the method that works best for you. Often customers will customize the recipes to their own taste. The key to any caramel corn recipe is to use high-quality ingredients and the right equipment. Check out our video on this here.


A - The best way to make cheese popcorn is in a tumbler. The tumbler is made to gently toss and coat the popcorn, covering it thoroughly while minimizing breakage. Gold Medal offers an entire line of cheese pastes, so you can find the the flavor that works best for you. Check out our video on this here.


A - There are a variety of different products you can use to make flavored popcorn. Try savory shake-on flavors with Signature Shakes®. Or make candy-glazed popcorn in the sweet flavors of Signature Blends®. Corn Treat Concentrate Mixes are another way to make rich flavors like chili lime, chocolate, cinnamon crunch, or mango. Glaze Pop® will allow you to make sweet flavored popcorn straight in the kettle. And don’t forget OREO® Popcorn Kits!


A - The first point to remember is not to overwhelm yourself with too many flavors. You risk wasting product if it goes out of date. Gold Medal recommends to roll flavors in and out, while also having core flavors that are always available. Some of the most popular popcorn flavors to sell are movie theater, caramel, cheese, caramel and cheese mix, hot cheese, and white popcorn.


A - Gold Medal offers many different packaging solutions. Heat-seal bags for maximum freshness, kraft window bags offer an attractive packaging, and a selection of printed and non-printed bags (some with ingredients and bar codes included). Plus tins and tubs are available for custom order.


A - Please address this question with your local health department first. They can advise on what information is required. Gold Medal is able to provide all the information you may need.


A - Setting pricing is a balance of finding a price that is attractive to the consumer yet profitable for the operator. To help you develop the best pricing structure, Gold Medal offers modeling and tools. We can coach you through the process.


A - Gold Medal has a variety of kernels grown specifically for the needs of our customers. Choose from Monster Mushroom, Top n Pop, Maxi Pop, White Mega Pop, Mega Pop, and SunnyPop. Our concession specialists can help you determine which variety is right for your recipes.


A - The type of oil that is best for you can vary. The most commonly used popcorn oil is coconut or white coconut. However, there are other oils including corn oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and blended oils.


A - The majority of popcorn poppers wet pop. Why? It tastes better! For the familiar taste and texture of traditional popcorn wet popping is the solution.


A - How much money you can make depends upon a lot of different factors. However, profit margins average 70-80% for most gourmet popcorn products, which means there is significant potential. Using Gold Medal’s P&L models, you can get a good idea of how your shop may perform financially.


A - Yes, you can find complementary products such as cotton candy, fudge, frosted or glazed nuts, or candy and caramel apples that can bring in additional sales dollars.


A - You can expect to receive deliveries from a Gold Medal branch or distributor.


A - Customer support is a main foundation at Gold Medal. Lifetime training is our commitment to you to make sure that you are confident in the operation, cleaning, and maintenance of your equipment. For added peace of mind, you can trust Gold Medal’s warranty as the longest in the industry. New product innovation is important and Gold Medal is known for developing products and resources that support your business. Maintaining a large in-stock inventory means you’ll find more products readily available.


A - To get started, complete the form below or call us directly at 800-543-0862. A Gold Medal team member will reach out to you. We may schedule a free site visit to learn more about your needs. And you are always welcome at any of our showrooms for free demos and samples.


 

Why Choose Gold Medal?

With Gold Medal, you get far more than just a piece of equipment. You receive the industry’s highest level of support. From initial consultations and product samples to hands-on demos and training, our team is here to help your gourmet popcorn shop be successful. With a top-quality team consisting of 17 branch locations and a global distribution network, Gold Medal is well-equipped to provide a superior service experience.

 
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Learn More

See why more gourmet popcorn shops trust Gold Medal! From poppers to tumblers, cooker mixers, and more, our selection includes only the top-quality gourmet popcorn equipment and supplies. Explore our product lines, get expert recommendations, practical tips, and valuable industry insights that will drive your success. Whether you’re starting a new shop or upgrading your current setup, our team is ready to assist you. Simply choose your preferred contact method and connect with Gold Medal today!

Complete the form below.

Call Gold Medal directly at 800-543-0862.

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