Stroopwafel, chocolate or cheddar

Yuandi creates and sells popcorn

Student Yuandi sells self-made popcorn with peculiar flavors. There is more to the business than you might think: “We have experimented for three years before we were satisfied.”

“Stroopwafel is our unique and most beloved flavour” says the 21-year old Yuandi de Herdt (at the right side of the picture), student Business Administration at Windesheim Flevoland. Together with her sister Charissa, she runs the company Yummy Popcorn with which they sell homemade popcorn to for example roadside restaurants.

The making and creating of flavors just happens at home in the kitchen of their parents. But it isn’t easy to correct flavors, compounds and production techniques.  “We have experimented for three years before we were satisfied, we have discussed the bonding process for example. That was very frustrating. We pop the corn first and then we add the flavors, for example real chunks of stroopwafel. But, those chunks don’t automatically stick to the popcorn. We have tried different things to solve the problems, but many methods had an influence on the flavor and we didn’t want that of course.  Eventually we found a smart and innovative solution: “ We discovered that we could stick the chunks of stroopwafel with homemade caramel.” Making good popcorn is more complicated than it seems. It really is underestimated.

Making popcorn is underestimated!

Salty chocolate and white cheddar
Making popcorn started off as a hobby. “Every Sunday at our house, was baking day. We would often pop popcorn together. We are very creative and we like experimenting, so we made up the plan to create other flavors than just sweet and salty. We tried different flavors and made our friends and family taste them. They were very enthusiastic! When they had perfected their recipe, the sisters decided to sell their popcorn and start a business.  “We didn’t even have a plan on how to deal with things. That wasn’t really smart after all. Our popcorn was only tenable for five weeks for example. We, of course, eat our popcorn immediately, so we hadn’t thought about that. But businesses want to save their stocks for six to twelve months.

“We forgot about the shelf life”

It felt a little stupid because we hadn’t thought about something so important “It wasn’t smart that we had created fifteen flavors because you can’t have that much in stock. If customers came, they had to wait because we made their order fresh. With our popcorn machine we make a certain amount, with the orders we would always have too much in the end. We then restricted our product range to three flavors: Stroopwafel, salty chocolate and white cheddar. We also decided we wouldn’t focus on individual costumers and seperate bags anymore. We started selling to the roadside restaurant Hajé. With this tactic we were able to make bigger stocks and deliver these to the roadside restaurant, they then sell the popcorn there. We also are negotiating with different wholesalers who hopefully want to sell our popcorn.” In the one and  half year that Yummy popcorn exists, Yuandi and her sister sold about 1500 bags.

They now own three popcorn machines. “We pop the corn with those. The other things we still do by hand: adding ingredients, packing up etc. When we are big enough we hope that we will be able to buy machines for that as well.’’ experimenting with new flavors is still done in front of their parents. However, if they produce a lot of popcorn to stock up buyers inventories, they rent a professional kitchen. “Then you meet different hygiene rules, we are not able to pull that off at home.”

Lately, Yuandi and Charissa focus on individual clients again. Next summer they will sell their popcorn from a food truck for the first time, for example on the movie festival Pluk de nacht in Utrecht. It is  quite exciting, because I’m not a seller naturally. The making and creating are my specialties. I am always nervous when I see others taste the popcorn. Even with friends and family. Do they like it? “I have no idea what interest we can expect, but we are prepared for everything. We can make salty popcorn any time, as much as we want, and we will make a lot of sweet popcorn before the festival. If we have a lot left in the end, an acquaintance will sell the popcorn with a stall in the Albert Cuyp market in Amsterdam.

What is Yuandi’s final dream for Yummy popcorn? “I would love if our popcorn would be sold in Disneyland. I have always been a big fan of Disney. Everyone should be happy in his life at least once and that is what Disney does. I would love to cooperate on that.”

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