If you’ve ever dreamed up a wild flavor to put on your popcorn, chances are a business coming soon to Bixby Knolls has already thought of it.
Caramel or cheese are great and all, but have you tried crab leg? What about bubblegum, chipotle or pickles?
Popcorn World, an Indiana-based snack shop chain, has concocted hundreds of flavors of popcorn, and a licensee plans to set up a location in Bixby Knolls this June.
In his newest business venture, Chicago native Vernon Chatman plans to produce about 250 flavors for the Bixby Knolls store. (Popcorn World makes up to 400 flavors, Chatman said.)
Because his wife moved to Ontario, the 34-year-old searched for a unique business opportunity. Seeing no other popcorn shops in the area, he went for it.
Key lime pie was the first flavor he tried. It was weird but delicious, he recalled.
Next was Orange Dreamsicle: “That one kind of knocked me off my feet, and I was kind of sold from there.”
The flavors are organized under five categories: caramel, kettle corn/butter, cheese, gourmet and candied. The most popular flavors include dill pickle, blueberry muffin and the “go-to” coated caramel, Chatman said.
The opening of Popcorn World in Bixby Knolls, Chatman hopes, will be “something new and fun,” he said, with plans to create new flavors unique to the Los Angeles area.
Popcorn World Chief Executive Officer LeBarron Burton said after his Georgia-based childhood friends “hit a wall” with the business in the 2000s, Burton, who has a technical and marketing background, was brought aboard to consult for them.
Burton said the brand was diluted because licensees were operating under different names. In 2018, Burton officially took over as CEO. Soon, he expanded the company nationally and internationally after an online interview in 2020 with comedians and All Def followed by a Facebook segment of comedian Tahir Moore sampling the popcorn went viral. Nearly 1,000 orders came in overnight. His vision, including rebranding (the name was formerly Popcorn Haven), took off from there, he said.
“It’s just part of building the brand out and becoming a household name,” Burton said.
Back in California, Chatman has set a tentative opening date for June 4 at 3916 Atlantic Ave. In May, Chatman said his Popcorn World shop in Long Beach will be participating in a few popups at First Fridays and Season Sports.
For the upcoming First Fridays event, Chatman said he will likely give out free samples to patrons, “to get their taste buds aware of what’s coming to the neighborhood.”