Sharp cheese paired with … caramel?!
Chicago-style popcorn … in Delaware??
All true. Well, almost. As friends go, Jim McBride and Ed Osborne, two Wilmington business owners, may not actually be Batman and Robin but they may be as close. Ed and Jimmy met in 1995 and became best friends from that moment on. Other friends jokingly gave them the “Batman and Robin” nicknames, though Ed is not one to play second fiddle as Robin (and Jim is too tall for the part).
Many of you may recall that Ed Osborne successfully fought the battle of eminent domain for his business location in Wilmington. For successfully standing up to the governmental establishment and winning his case against the city’s intended infringement on his business, Ed was awarded a “Sammie” by the Sam Adams alliance in Chicago, Illinois. To accept his award, Ed and his family traveled to the Windy City, where they also took some time to explore and experience what Chicago had to offer.
One of the most memorable things Ed encountered was “Chicago-style” gourmet popcorn — caramel popcorn paired with cheese flavored popcorn that’s eaten together for a different and distinctive taste sensation. Ed’s entire family enjoyed this unique taste sensation but had to leave it behind when they returned to Delaware.
A few weeks after the award trip, Ed and Jim were out around Wilmington’s Riverfront when Jim had an epiphany. “We should start a business together … like maybe making wholesale candy to the public,” he said. Ed liked the concept but knew there was a better idea. That’s when he and Jim put their heads together, invested several months of their time creating, testing, going back to the “drawing board” and ultimately developing the product. Staying with their goal of using only the finest ingredients, they perfected their own recipes to create Chicago-style popcorn here, in Delaware.
In popcorn parlance, a popped kernel of corn is known as a flake. There are two popular types of flakes: “Butterfly” flakes make up the tender and savory popcorn you pop in the microwave at home or buy at movie theaters; “mushroom” flakes are rounded and less fragile than its counterpart and is most commonly used for caramel and other tasty gourmet coatings. “Chicago-style” popcorn uses mushroom flakes coated with either caramel or sharp powered cheese. These are then combined into one container to make it easier to enjoy both kinds of popcorn at the same time. The difference? Ed and Jim have gone beyond the original Chicago-style by developing their own recipes for both the caramel and cheese flavors used so that it’s truly their product in the tradition of the original Chicago product.
Jim and Ed are true entrepreneurs. They’ve been through business start-up stuff before. This time, however, they’re as much into the fun and of how people react to their popcorn as getting the word out about it. “Delawareans aren’t very adventurous when it comes to popcorn,” Ed discovered. “But once we finally convince people to put both the caramel and the cheese popcorn in their mouths together, it’s fun to see their eyes light up. It’s like a whole new world to them!”