Andrea Ginsberg grew up loving popcorn. A local popcorn store in her Texas hometown was the place to go for treats and gifts from sweet caramel corn to savory flavors.
About four years ago, when Ginsberg, a mom of two, saw a sign advertising the opening of a gourmet popcorn store near her Durham home, she took note. And, when The Mad Popper opened, she became fan.
Fast forward a few years and Ginsberg learned some other news about The Mad Popper - it was for sale. Ginsberg, a former elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom, had been looking for something to do as her younger son got closer to kindergarten. She decided to take the plunge and bought the business 18 months ago.
"I had no employees that first summer," she remembers. "It 'was crazy and we made it."
Ginsberg began developing new flavors, a favorite part of her job. Chocolate cherry, cookies and cream and Mexican chocolate are among them.
The Mad Popper's standard flavors, including caramel; yellow cheddar; Q-corn, made with rub from the Q Shack; white cheddar; and The Mad Popper blend, which mixes the yellow and white cheese flavors with caramel. always are available.
And each month, Ginsberg plans a slate of flavors of the week. This week, she'll mark Valentine's Day with flavors such as red hot cinnamon, strawberry and vanilla, which can be packaged up in special holiday tins.
Ginsberg's offerings are nut free and mostly gluten free. She offers some dairy-free kinds as well. When she makes a batch with gluten in it, she's careful to double clean the machinery to ensure the next batch is gluten free, she tells me.
Best of all, she's able to mix owning a business with being a mom. She works when her two boys are at school. Employees cover for her when she's gone. Now she's working to build name recognition for the store as she has her sights set on expanding.
"It's been a great way to give to the community and meet people," she tells me.
The Mad Popper can handle special orders and is a great place for party and event favors. She's worked with a local party planner on gourmet popcorn bars, a popular offering at weddings. That sounds like a fun activity for a birthday party too.
And she has a few small tables at her storefront in Durham near The Streets at Southpoint. You can try the different flavors and buy a bag to eat there. Prices start at just $2.75 for four cups of popcorn. And she has drinks for sale too. It's a fun afternoon snack outing. If you're lucky, you might see them making popcorn too, which was a treat for my kids.
And, may I add, it's all delicious. My family's favorite: The Mad Popper blend.
Find The Mad Popper at Homestead Market, 105 W. NC 54, Suite 259, in Durham. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.