People always ask how I got started in the popcorn business. Believe it or not, It all started when I was looking for a machine to crush ice. The ice maker and ice crusher in our double door fridge decided to stop working for the 3rd time. I was fed up with getting it repaired. I like lots of ice in my drinks. What to do?
I had contacted my friend Ted who is in the Concession Stand Equipment business. I didn't want to buy something that would break easily. He said the only thing they have would be a Sno-Cone machine. He said the kids will love it, and they could easily make the money back selling Sno-Cones at car shows. The car show I ran always had a reputation for overly nice weather. How could I go wrong. So I bought the Sno-Cone machine with all the syrups, cups dispensers to go with it. He also mentioned that it might not be a bad idea to add a popcorn machine to my Man cave as well. The kids could make and sell popcorn at the car shows as well. Children love popcorn and he mentioned he had a good quality used machine for sale. He also mentioned that he had these Flavour additives that you put in with the Kernels as they are popping. It turns normal popcorn into Frosted Popcorn, the kind that a lot of us had when we were kids, like Lucky Elephant Pink Popcorn, and Blue Raspberry etc. etc. It was more than I wanted to spend, but my children were excited and who doesn't like Sno-Cones and Popcorn. I had lots of explaining to do to my wife when everything arrived. Lets just say the children were excited. Besides, my friend ensured me that the Sno-Cone machine will pay for itself in no time.
When I got everything home I started making candy frosted popcorn for my three children. It was a hit with them, their friends, school children and the neighbours children. I was making it non stop. Personally I really enjoy Cheese flavoured popcorn so I looked into how this was made. Becoming interested, I made my own popcorn tumbler that would allow me to drizzle liquid cheese over my popped popcorn. I purchased the Cheese flavouring from my friend and started to make Cheese flavoured popcorn. This stuff was amazing and the taste was perfection. It didn't stop there. I needed to find out how to make Caramel Corn. How was I going to do this?
I researched the process, modified a simple Caramel recipe, and decided I was going to find a way to cook caramel and coat the popcorn. With a turkey fryer, a candy thermometer, a modified canoe paddle and all my ingredients in hand, I made my first batch of Caramel Corn in my driveway using a turkey fryer as my cooker. No one could believe the results. It was a hit and that was how my popcorn business got started. I still use the same recipe today.
During the next two years it became an obsession for me to find proper equipment to coat popcorn. Lets just say I spent a lot of time searching for used popcorn equipment, and bought machinery from all over Canada for popping and coating popcorn. I turned my garage into a little facility for this, and with the help of my family I started Herbie's Crazy Corn treats. For most of 2017-2018 I gave popcorn away to my customers at my VW repair shop. They loved the popcorn and eventually returned and bought some.
Near the end of 2018 and the early part of 2019, I was diagnosed with a Shwannoma Tumour pushing on my Spinal Cord. I spent the majority of 2019 and the early part of 2020 in the hospital dealing with surgeries and rehabilitation. With a lot of hard work, determination, an extremely dedicated Team of Doctors and Physiotherapist, a caring wife and loving family, I am able to walk with a Rollator walker and I am now functioning in a wheelchair.
The name "Herbie" comes from my love of old VW's and the Walt Disney Classic, "Herbie the love Bug". I owned two race cars painted to resemble the old "Herbie the Love Bug". The name of the popcorn business was changed from Herbie's Crazy Corn Treats to Herbie's Gourmet Popcorn Company in 2020 when I decided to give it a go again, concentrating on unique delicious handcrafted popcorn flavours and coatings. Thanks for reading. John