After getting laid off from a job in 2003, Chad Jordan was fed up with the world of working for someone else. Drawing up a popcorn business plan in 2004 and acquiring popcorn equipment from a closed kettle corn shop at the Lansing City Market, Jordan started Cravings Popcorn in 2007 and never looked back. Now in a new Old Town location, Jordan continues his rich tradition of refining his recipes and brand for a local and national audience crazy for his craft.
I read you use coconut oil to pop your popcorn. Why this choice?
It is going to be just the quality and the flavor. It is going to be the quality of how the popcorn pops. You can go to another gourmet popcorn shop or movie theatre who is trying to get the biggest bang for their buck with profits, so they are going to use the cheapest oil they can find.
You can definitely taste the difference if you go to the movies or here. We have a much higher quality product.
Tell me about your popcorn and where it comes from.
Our popcorn is grown here in Michigan. We actually have a personal relationship with the farmers who grow our popcorn. We’ve been using the same farmers since 2009. We drive down every two to three weeks to their farm and pick up a load of popcorn. It is really high quality popcorn.
We use two different kinds: A mushroom popcorn popping up big and round and a butterfly, a traditional movie style popcorn. We use one or the other. Butterfly for movie with mushroom for all other flavors.
You made a video calling out imitation caramel corn. What is the difference between the real deal and the fake product?
The point I was trying to get across is that gourmet popcorn became sort of a fad. It was hot five or six years ago. All these people tried to get into the business, but had no idea how to make authentic caramel corn. The shortcut they take so they don’t have any recipes is they would buy a pre manufactured product to cook over top of their popcorn and call it caramel corn. It is one of those cheap shortcuts. It even happens with BBQ businesses. Instead of having a smoker in the back, someone will buy smoked meats from a food truck and then slather BBQ sauce on it and roast it.
There is a big difference between a high quality product and something that is mediocre. If you don’t care about quality, you can buy caramel corn from a factory or something with more authenticity behind it. That is what the difference is.
What makes your caramel corn authentic?
Over the years, we’ve developed caramel corn recipes. What we are able to do, because we document everything, is we evolve recipes and iterate different ideas based on the original idea. All the caramel corn recipes we have today are based on the original recipe I developed in 2007. It is an evolution of getting better and better over time.
Everything is built upon that day one. [For example] With premade glaze, you are starting out with something that is poor and you are always building off of something that is poor.
You recently moved across the street on Turner Street. What does this new location offer?
This is one of the best moves we’ve ever made. We are able to put all of the production, selling offices and sales within one building. Everything from one spot.
There is no advantage of having a small company run out of multiple locations. Here, we can have the person running the website talk to the person marketing. It is all integrated in one location and that is phenomenal.
What drives you to keep improving recipes and come up with new flavors?
The creativity is probably the best part of what keeps us going because it is like pushing the boundaries of how creative you can be. For example, a few months ago we created BBQ bacon caramel corn.
It doesn’t necessarily sound good on the surface, but as you go along and taste it you’ll find it is shockingly good. For the two weeks we had it, it was our number one sold flavor. It exceeded our expectations. It is just the creativity. Being here in Old Town, I am inspired by good marketing and places like Red Head Design Studios.
I treat our popcorn the same way. We want to create something no one else in the country is doing so that people around here have pride in our city.
The light bulb turned on about a year ago for me. We were getting orders from California, Florida, Maine and Alaska. All these online orders ship all around the country. How does this happen? I think it is because we built a reputation. We are nationally known for creating gourmet popcorn and we are doing it in a different way no one else is doing.