Calorie conscious students at the University of Memphis may be able to have their cake and eat it too, or at least their popcorn.
Kay and Mike Gellar, “POPrietors” for the franchise Doc Popcorn, are looking to expand their client base, and U of M is one of their target locations.
“If I was a college student, I would love the idea of sitting down and studying while munching on a bag of yummy popcorn,” Kay said.
Doc Popcorn was started by Robert and Renee Israel in 2003 as a healthy snack alternative to the typical calorie-laden popcorn sold at festivals, concerts and other venues. The couple made the popcorn in the kitchen of their New York City apartment, and then moved to the more health conscious climate of Boulder, Colo., where they opened up stands in sports arenas, shopping malls and various Whole Foods Markets throughout the state.
“They both worked for Fortune 500 companies in New York and just got tired of the rat race,” Mike said. “When they moved to Boulder, they spent six years perfecting their flavoring formulas."
Doc Popcorn comes in a variety flavors, including Sweet Butter, Klassic Kettle, Sinfully Cinnamon and Hoppin’ Jalapeno. All of the flavors are wheat, nut and gluten-free, and some additional flavors are sugar, soy and dairy-free. Each one cup serving of popcorn ranges from 45 to 130 calories and a typical bag contains about 13 servings, costing $5.50.
The Gellars would ideally have a mobile stand in the University Center, where they would make the popcorn on site. Gellar said a mobile cart is better than a kiosk because it is less expensive to maintain. The Gellar's plan on coming to campus to survey the university center to determine which time periods attract the most student traffic.
“One of our biggest selling points is that it is freshly popped, when people see it and smell it, they usually buy it,” Kay said. “The best way for us to promote our product is through sampling.
When the Gellar's envisioned their golden years, hauling around a mobile cart filled with gluten-free popcorn was not the vision that came to mind.
Mike worked as an accountant and lost one of his major clients, which made quite a dent in the couple's finances.
“After he lost that client, we started re-evaluating things and got in touch with a franchise broker who introduced us to Doc Popcorn,” Kay said. “We bought it in May and went through their training program in August, our first on site event was the Pink Palace crafts fair.”
Kay and Mike had a “popping out” party for their franchise, and invited close friends and business associates. Kay said their product was “fantastically received.”
“My friend has a daughter at Mississippi State University, and we gave her some bags as gifts before she went off to school,” Mike said. “Within two weeks, she and her friends wanted refills.”
The Gellar's recently wrapped up their booth at Indie Memphis Film Fest and are looking forward to setting up at local flea markets and selling bulk gift bags for the holiday season.
“A lot of people appreciate the fact they can get a delicious product and it be healthy, people think if it is healthy it will not taste good, but most customers are delighted with taste,” Kay said.