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DeRusha Eats: Angie's BoomChickaPop

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) --Inside a non-descript industrial building in Mankato, a snack that's thousands of years old is getting a new look.

Angie and Dan Bastian started popping kettle corn as a couple in 2001.

"It's amazing when you think about we started all of this by hand, we popped by hand, we bagged by hand, we did everything by hand," Angie said.

Now, their company sells tens of millions of dollars of popcorn, and has 240 employees.

"Now we do anywhere between 80,000 to 100,000 bags per day," Dan said.

A couple years ago, Angie's Kettle Corn wanted to launch a regular popcorn brand. Out of five possible names, "BoomChickaPop" popped right away.

Within four months, the Sea Salt BoomChickaPop blew past the kettle corn and became the company's top-selling product.

"This is easy because it's sea salt, sunflower oil and popcorn. Three simple ingredients," Angie said.

The White Cheddar Kettle Corn lost the sugar, became White Cheddar BoomChickaPop - and sales doubled.

"This is a custom white cheddar. No one else has this white cheddar," she said.

Behind the two major lines is a top-secret popping room with about 50 kettles. They don't want competitors to know how they get their unique flavor, and how they keep the kernels from clumping.

The research and development team proposes 20 new flavors every month.

"We've done a sweet Thai curry that's fun, we've done oak honey," she said. "Anything you can imagine, we've tried."

Now they're playing with seasonal flavors, like chocolate peppermint.

Their five main products, including the original kettle corn that made them famous, are now in all 50 states. And they have a simple goal: a natural-foods product for the mainstream. If it works in Mankato, it'll BoomChickaPop anywhere.

Their newest flavor, a caramel and cheddar popcorn mix, took about a year to develop. They had to get the calories under 100 per cup, and make sure the caramel flavor is just right.

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