“It’s kind of a funny story,” Greg Vancalbergh said when I asked how he and his wife, Becky, opened the original Jackson Popcorn Depot store seven years ago. We were standing in the middle of the couple’s second location, a 2,350-square-foot storefront at the Meridian Mall in Okemos. The shop celebrated its grand opening Saturday (Aug. 26) amid a sea of excited shoppers of all ages. Hundreds of bags of candy from across the globe lined the walls, and the smell of freshly popped popcorn filled the air.
When the Vancalberghs moved into their current house, Greg realized his fishing boat wouldn’t fit in the garage. He later sold the boat and pocketed more cash than he was expecting. Then, while perusing Craigslist, he saw a listing for a popcorn store that was for sale. Without hesitation, he reached out to the owner and made a deal.
“It was a little surprising, but it was worth it,” Becky Vancalbergh said. At that time, the couple owned and operated Swiss Treats, an ice cream shop near Jackson. After six years of operating both businesses, the Vancalberghs closed Swiss Treats earlier this year so they could focus all of their attention on expanding their popcorn operations.
Today, the Jackson store pops nearly 200 pounds of popcorn kernels every week, offering more than 70 different flavors, from Apple Pie to Ghost Pepper.
“Our Chicago-style popcorn is a favorite among our customers,” Becky Vancalbergh said. “They love the mix of sweet and salty popcorn flavors.”
Other popular flavors are Tutti Frutti, which contains a mix of eight fruity flavors, and Churro, which contains a dusting of cinnamon sugar and salt.
The Vancalberghs are also serving up all sorts of sweet treats at their new location. From vintage chocolates to international delights, Jackson Popcorn Depot has something to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth. The company is even keeping a close eye on TikTok to stay up to date on viral candy trends, like freeze-dried candy. The process of making freeze-dried candy involves freezing the candy and removing all the water and moisture, leaving only pure sugar crystals behind. The result is a crunchier version of the original candy that melts in your mouth.
“We easily go through 60 to 100 bags of freeze-dried candy every week,” Greg Vancalbergh said. “We make each bag in-house and have freeze-dried just about every gummy and candy you can think of.”
He gave me a sample of freeze-dried gummy sharks to try, and I had a hard time not eating the whole bag in one sitting. Their slightly sour taste reminded me of Bomb Pops, a novelty ice cream I remember devouring as a kid.
In addition to candy and popcorn, the store also offers a variety of cinnamon-roasted nuts, including almonds, cashews, pecans and peanuts. The store sells between 50 and 100 pounds of these salty-sweet morsels every week.
To learn more about Jackson Popcorn Depot and its franchising opportunities, or to purchase bags of popcorn online, head to jacksonpopcorn.com. Follow the business on social media at facebook.com/jacksonpopcorn or instagram.com/jacksonpopcorn to keep up with upcoming events, giveaways and more.
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