Farmers Market Profile: Devin Gillihan of POPPED Artisan Popcorn

POPPED Artisan Popcorn began as an experiment.

Devin Gillihan and Diana Klawitter-Gillihan traveled to Oregon in 2012 to sell popcorn out of a food truck for a few months. After finding success in the Pacific Northwest, they decided to travel home to Tucson.

Beginning with a food truck at Heirloom Farmers Markets, the Gillihans eventually transitioned to a vendor tent.

“In 2015, Tap & Bottle approached us about selling our products in the bar,” said Devin Gillihan. “Next came Pueblo Vida Brewing and then the floodgates just opened. It has been a rollercoaster for us ever since.”

Devin and Diana, two high school sweethearts, have a mutual love for popcorn that fostered the idea for POPPED.

“When looking at popcorns, everything is full of chemicals and unidentifiable ingredients.” he says. “We were looking to create a product that was different and something you can’t find everywhere.”

POPPED’s products are all non-GMO, gluten, nut, and dairy-free. They also use no preservatives, artificial colors, and are completely vegan.

“We make a full batch, season it and then bag it up. Our biggest thing – what we guarantee – is that our popcorn is fresh,” says Devin. “When you see it at a local shop, you know it hasn’t been sitting there for a month. With no preservatives, the window is small for the popcorn to even stay on the shelf.”

POPPED offers a range of unique, delicious flavors. Highlights include Sea Salt Caramel, Lemon Poppy Seed, Churro, Sweet Chile Lime, and Green Chile. A lot of thought and time goes into making sure the best seasonings are used.

“We want customers to enjoy the flavors, not just the sweetness. The flavors are bold, but not masked by sugar. Taste the curry, taste the lemon poppy seed,” Gillihan says.

Packaged goods and samples of POPPED popcorn. (Photo by Jennifer Rothschild)

Packaged goods and samples of POPPED popcorn. (Photo by Jennifer Rothschild)

Overall, POPPED’s most popular flavor is Lemon Poppy Seed. But the crowd favorite at farmers market is Sea Salt Caramel.University of Arizona students gravitate towards Churro.

“My wife, Diana, gets all of the credit for coming up with the unique flavors and ideas. I don’t know how she does it, but I love what she comes up with. My favorite flavor is the Herb.”

During the holiday season, POPPED offers seasonal flavors Mexican Hot Chocolate, Peppermint, and Gingerbread.

“The Gingerbread is something to be reckoned with,” he says. “It’s delicious.”

Expanding to offer additional products is not in the cards for POPPED.

“We just plan on making popcorn,” says Devin. “We have one product and have a passion for it. If we focus on just one item, we can do it right and do it extremely well. This is what we do and we feel we do it better than anyone else.”

Working at the farmers markets has given Gillihan a chance to meet customers and interact with the other vendors.

“I always tell people – the samples are free but the addiction will cost you.” Gillihan jokes. “If you can’t have fun with popcorn, what can you have fun with? Food is meant to be enjoyed.”

Find POPPED Artisan Popcorn at Oro Valley Steam Pump Ranch Farmers Market on Saturday, Rillito Park Farmers Market on Sundays and the University of Arizona Farmers Market on Wednesdays when school is in session. Visit poppedartisan.wordpress.com for a full list of retail locations.

Jennifer Rothschild is an aspiring freelance food writer by night.

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