It's very rare to find someone who does not like popcorn. Some eat it often, others occasionally or to accompany certain rituals like a movie.
TasteBuds Boutique Co-founder Lara Osseiran with bepOp popcorn Founder, Nadia Podtetenev
According to different sources, popcorn is a very old invention, already consumed in 3600 BC. J.-C. in Mexico. The legend says that a farmer named Gonzalo Quádre discovered popcorn on a bright sunny day, he heard popping noises after leaving some corm to dry in the sun. After tasting it, he have found them good and decided to market them. It is said that popcorn was brought back by some American sailors to the United States.
The consumption of popcorn increased in 1891 thanks to Charles Cretors, an American confectioner who invented a walking steam engine in Chicago capable of turning corn into popcorn.
And a bit like the origin of popcorn, bepOp popcorn is born, by chance!
Nadia Podtetenev, founder of bepOp, is very familiar with popcorn, it is a snack that has been part of her family for a very long time, and is consumed almost every day at home. Like many of us, with the fast paced life that we lead, Nadia used to go for the easy solution: popcorn bought at the grocery, all ready and made in the microwave. But at one point, reading the ingredients, she realized that she did not want her family to eat this.
And from there, following a conversation with her spouse François remembering that when he was young, his mother made popcorn herself in the pot, so the family has been using this method since the early 2000s… and she saw an opportunity there!
Thus in 2016, bepOp was born.
At a time when she was at a crossroads in terms of career and she was searching for what she wanted, Nadia began her research. She heard about a type of corn with small grains. Some time later, tasting it at a friend's house, she loved it, made her husband taste it, who in turn, finally also fell in love with it. bepOp was going to redefine how to eat popcorn. Kits ready and pre-proportioned, for ease, and tasty small grains to make in a pot; all in a healthy and sustainable version!
Nadia first tried the American grains, but looked further and found a Quebec supplier, which produces white and red grains. She fell in love with it and opted for this option. These are better grains, organic, done here.
What makes one grain better than another?
Corn is divided into several sub-families. Among other things, there is corn for animals, which is industrial, the one on the cob and the one for popcorn. In the latter, there are several families too. It's like tomatoes (red, small, big, etc.). It's the same for corn, each has its characteristics. The big yellow is more efficient, easy, that took over the mass production market. Now, we’re returning to a varied production with more quality, and that's what we find in the small grain.
At bepOp, the mix of 2 grains is aesthetic, it piques the curiosity of people, because, let’s not forget that we eat with the eyes!
That's how bepOp started. It was first launched at Christmas markets to see the interest of people, and the answer was very positive.
How was the name bepOp developed?
"By pure chance," said Nadia. "I was looking for a name with the word pop (for popcorn) and I came across the jazz movement bebop in the 30s, which is eclectic with a lot of trumpet (which reminds a bit the popping noise of corn) ... This is there that I told myself why not change the bop to pop! I like the 30s, its fashion, its architecture, so it speaks to me! The name is simple, it is well, pronounced, it is a universal name and can be understood well everywhere."
How did you develop the branding and packaging?
I wanted a clean image, and I wanted some aspects like the "o" in capital letter and the black and grey look. With these directions, everything was developed by a graphic designer. As for the boxes and the label, they were developed by me.
At first, I only sold grains, to test the interest but a very small portion of the population looks for grains only because they are looking for quality and health. For the rest, people think it’s difficult to make popcorn without the microwave because this notion was removed from them. Hence, the idea of proportionate and measured duos and trios. And the boxes lent themselves well as a gift to offer. It's fast, easy and everything is ready and easy to do but it's healthier and tastier.
What distinguishes bepOp from what's on the market?
The premium quality ingredients that give an exceptional taste. From the grain, to the coconut oil mixture (which is heat-resistant and whose sweet taste is reminiscent of butter), to the seasonings. The ingredients are natural, less processed.
How did you choose the seasonings?
First, all our seasonings are vegan. Why? Initially, my daughter is vegan. In addition, when you expose yourself to the food industry, you realize that it’s not always great in terms of treatment of the animals and environment, therefore, for these reasons I chose exclusively vegan options to do my part.
The Salt with Herbs is a classic. We always had it at home, even when we ate the well-known yellow popcorn. Basically, I was the only one to eat it, the rest of the family did not want my seasoning. Once, my daughter had finished her bowl of popcorn and she took mine; and she loved it. She made her sisters and father taste it, and this is how the salt with herbs is born.
The Mucho Nacho is the most spicy version.
Cinnamon Sugar was developed because, in general, Quebecers like sugar. It looks like churros and beaver tails.
And finally, the BBQ is another classic.
I intend to make other flavours. By getting a dehydrator, I could do it by putting the seasonings in fine powder.
I buy the grains from a producer on the South Shore of Montreal, and from wholesalers for spices. Eventually I would like to buy most herbs locally and dehydrate them myself. I also aim for all ingredients to be organic. Grains and oil are, but sometimes it's not always easy for seasonings.
And I could also consider doing seasonal seasonings aside from the regular range.
And what about the packaging?
The packaging is eco-friendly. Cellophane is a plant, so it is compostable. I am still looking for a compostable packaging for oil. The label is made from recycled paper and is recyclable.
Everything is handmade. My goal is to eventually hire someone with a disability to help with the packaging as soon as I can.
Moreover, although it is not my favourite step, each step with repetitive gestures frees my mind, and it is often there that I will have ideas and inspirations!
Your favourite flavour?
Salt with herbs, followed by mucho nacho.
Your favourite recipe with popcorn?
Use popcorn as croutons in soups or salads.
But also with a creamy cheese to make balls with popcorn and cheese or with pâté. Let the cheese temper and take a small amount that is mixed with popcorn to make a little ball.
Your dream for bepOp?
That you find it everywhere in Quebec. When we think about popcorn, we think about bepOp, a healthy snack without feeling guilty!