As a restaurant critic, eating is my job, so I try to limit snacking, or at least choose healthy ones. My willpower was sorely tested this weekend when David Israel, CEO of Pop! Gourmet Popcorn was a guest on KIRO Radio’s “Let’s Eat.” He showed up at the studio heavily armed with samples of his many-flavored wares.
Sure, it’s easy to make popcorn at home, even to bump it up a notch by rummaging through your salts and spices. But it’s not so simple to infuse it with smoke or coat the kernels with blue cheese.
Pop! Rogue Blue, made in partnership with the Oregon’s Rogue Creamery, won a gold award for “Outstanding Snack” at this year’s Specialty Foods Show. Turns out it’s a favorite of my “Let’s Eat” co-host, Terry Jaymes too. His tip: “Shove as much as you can in your mouth and don’t chew, just suck on it. Sounds weird. I didn’t know it could actually be juicy.”
I have to admit, he’s right. The stuff melts in your mouth. I discovered it goes great with a dry martini, too.
Partnering with established brands has been a successful strategy for Israel’s Kent-based company. Pop! teamed with Tacoma’s Brown and Haley to make their butter toffee popcorn with Almond Roca Buttercrunch. “Rubs with Love,” the ever-expanding line of spice blends from Tom Douglas, inspired a savory trio of flavors that’s just hitting the market. I couldn’t decide which I like better: the warm and exotic Chinese 12 Spice, or the aromatic African Peri Peri that leaves a trail of chili heat on the tongue. Terry wasn’t so conflicted. He confessed to consuming a bag of Smoky BBQ and Northwest Cheddar in about five minutes flat.
Israel said he hopes to seal a deal soon with Theo Chocolate and he’s working with TV fitness personality Tony Little on a healthy line, Pop! Light (35 calories per serving). By then, though, it’s going to be hard for me to wean myself from Rogue Blue— 350 calories per resealable bag. Good luck sealing it up before all the popcorn’s gone though. It’s my new vice.
Look for Pop! Gourmet Popcorn at West Seattle Thriftway, Metropolitan Markets, QFC, Uwajimaya, Hudson News, Made In Washington Stores, Tully’s, Tom Douglas’s new Assembly Hall in Via 6 and other specialty food shops. Listen to the whole interview with David Israel on “Let’s Eat” here.