Popping Success: The Flavorful Tale of Al’s Delicious Popcorn
From a Simple Kernel to Culinary Delight
Step into Al’s Delicious Popcorn and you’ll discover a world where popcorn is treated as a culinary art. From each pristine kernel to the epic selection of gourmet flavors, quality is paramount. Al’s has certainly distinguished itself from the competition and is leaving a positive impression on customers throughout the state of Ohio and beyond.
The Story Behind Al’s Delicious Popcorn
Owner, Jan Baird left behind 30 years in the corporate world to make her way as an entrepreneur. She and her husband were fortunate to find a company that they knew and loved when they purchased Al’s Delicious Popcorn from Jan’s cousin in 2018. Al Voelkner founded the business in 1985 when he was in his 70’s! He was retired from the military and was very active and well-known in his community of Columbus, Ohio. Originally called The Popcorn Outlet, Al made a name for himself with the popcorn business. His vanilla butternut popcorn is one of his best-known creations (and is still sold today!). When he passed away, the business was sold, and the new owners decided to give a nod to the personality who had built the business. The era of Al’s Delicious Popcorn began.
Not Your Average Popcorn
What sets Al’s Delicious Popcorn apart is their unique approach to creating signature flavors. More than 100 flavor varieties are on their menu, including many seasonal favorites, gluten-free options, and vegan-friendly selections. They have a professional chef on staff and consult with a flavorist to develop new flavors that are unique, delicious, and memorable. While they do carry a lot of the common, popular popcorn flavors, the culinary artistry that goes into their items truly makes for an experience customers can’t find anywhere else.
Jan stresses that they are “super picky about quality and freshness.” They pop only the best popcorn kernels, use Gold Medal equipment, and follow stringent practices to ensure freshness.
True to their roots, vanilla butternut is their best-selling flavor. Jan estimates that it sells ten times more than others. Not only does it have a pleasing flavor, but it also can be colored easily, making it a great option for customized orders. A popular favorite at Christmas time is the vanilla butternut colored in red and green. Al’s also produces a vanilla butternut and cheese combination that they call the Columbus Mix. It outsells the traditional Chicago Mix of caramel and cheese corn.
They offer a large selection of savory flavors such as dill pickle and parmesan garlic. Their menu also offers sweet dessert flavors including a seasonal key lime pie and a white chocolate strawberry. For kids (and kids at heart), their top two flavors are cotton candy and jelly bean. Jelly bean is a bright, colorful mix of every fruit flavor Al’s makes.
Sampling is highly encouraged at Al’s. Jan enjoys witnessing customers as they are won over by the top-quality tasty treats. She says, “Let them try and they will buy!”
Service with a Smile
In addition to the number and quality of the popcorn flavors, Al’s Delicious Popcorn prides itself on customization for customers. Jan shared that they do a lot of work for companies or organizations who want branded products for customer or employee events. Al’s offers many packaging options including multiple sizes, heat-sealed, custom labeling, and colored popcorn.
Jan is adamant about meeting customers’ needs. That goes beyond the product and into the service side of the business. “How we treat people is just as important,” she explains. She lives this philosophy out. One year on Christmas Eve, shortly after closing for the night, a woman was distraught in the parking lot thinking she had missed out on getting her red and green vanilla butternut popcorn. When Jan discovered the problem, she didn’t hesitate to reopen the doors and make sure she got what she needed. Friendliness and flavor are what Al’s is known for. Jan expressed, “Always keeping a positive attitude and putting the customer first make a difference. People will remember how they’re treated.”
Getting the Word Out
As you may imagine, word of mouth is the top way Al’s Delicious Popcorn gets new customers. The community is phenomenal. People love the experience they have and want to share it with their friends and family. Al’s keeps customers informed of new flavors and other news through Facebook and Instagram. In addition, they do print, radio, and TV advertising. This year, they are also partnering with the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team at Nationwide Arena. They’ll do special promotions and giveaways at the games. Another niche that Al’s serves is weddings. So, they will attend bridal shows and share ideas such as popcorn bars at the reception or popcorn favors for guests.
A Promising Future
A former accountant, Jan is proud of how Al’s Delicious Popcorn has grown, sharing that the business is in its third year of over 20% growth. Al’s is now in three locations, Columbus, Pickerington, and Cincinnati. She enjoys running the business with her family. Jan’s husband, daughters, and son all work in some aspect for the company.
What lies in the future for Al’s Delicious Popcorn? Jan intends to keep them on a steady path of growth. She wants to grow the Cincinnati location to capacity and then evaluate if they want to continue to expand in retail or ramp up their production facilities to support growth in other channels. In the meantime, she’s focused on efficiency and effectiveness, making sure the business is hitting key deliverables consistently.
When asked what her advice would be for someone who wants to start a fun food business, Jan shared, “First and foremost, love and believe in what you’re doing. More than that, you have to realize that fun food businesses require a business mind and skill sets. So, develop your abilities accordingly.”
Jan appreciates how Gold Medal helps keep the business operating smoothly. “The service has been absolutely wonderful! They’ve even delivered popcorn to me in the snow when we ran out. Other companies don’t have the quality or the care for customers like Gold Medal does.”
Al’s Delicious Popcorn is a must-try place for any popcorn lover!
If you want to start your own fun food business, Gold Medal has the resources to help!