Case Study: Popped! (Kent, Ohio)

by Amanda Nugent May 22, 2017

When you walk into Popped! in Kent, Ohio, you’re greeted by the smell of scratch-made caramel corn. Owner and popcorn recipe author, Gwen Rosenberg, has created education materials for her customers — a chalk board wall guide to “popcornology,” which shows how a popcorn kernel is popped, and a map of Ohio depicting the origins of her locally sourced ingredients.

Popped! confections are packaged in simple Kraft paperboard from Tap, a type of paper used to accentuate the natural, handmade essence of Rosenberg’s artisan products. In both her popcorn and her packaging, the motto is simple. Quality rules, and less is more.  

Popped! is Rosenberg’s original creation, a one-of-a-kind “authentic confectionery kitchen” that was birthed from her home. Although Popped! has grown as a business since its grand opening in January 2012, Rosenberg plans on maintaining its quaint and charming character, her signature recipes, and appreciating every flavor of her community.

TPS (Tap Packaging Solutions): How did Popped! get started?


custom kraft gable box for kent popped popcorn

Custom Kraft Gable Box for Popped! and Kraft Auto Bottoms with custom imprinting

GR (Gwen Rosenberg): I started the business when I was experimenting with popcorn recipes in my home. I stayed home with my four boys for a number of years. I had been experimenting with different popcorn recipes, just trying to create my perfect caramel corn recipe.

Kent, Ohio, was going through a revitalization, and there was a small retail space available. I added brittle, handmade chocolates, and roasted nuts to the menu, so we have a whole assortment of candies and popcorn now. My original recipe for caramel corn is still our best seller. About 1 year ago we added homemade ice cream. 

I take a tremendous amount of pride in locally sourcing our ingredients. The popcorn grows in Ohio, the butter comes from a family-owned dairy place in the town of Wooster, Ohio, and our coffee comes from a locally-owned coffee roaster in town. We do as much as we possibly can from scratch in this shop — even our whipped cream for the sundaes. I try really hard to avoid using artificial colors or flavors, and we use naturally extracted vanilla extract. It really comes through in the flavor, and our customers really like it.

TPS: What’s your packaging strategy like? What kind of packaging do you use from Tap?

GR: Popped! has used Tap’s cello caddies and candy boxes from the Confection Stock Line, and we have a custom Kraft gable box for popcorn. We won an award for our packaging strategy at one of the RCI Annual Conventions.

I like the product to shine through. Our packaging is generally Kraft or clear, or maybe with a little red bow. The packaging is really there to draw attention to the product, and not the other way around. You can’t get it anywhere else; it’s stylish, and it’s very, very clean. It should look simple, and to look simple is very difficult to do. Our popcorn totes are a reflection of some of the design in the shop.

We emphasize a very simple logo. It’s really crisp. Using the different Kraft products that Tap has to offer adds very well to that. It reminds the customer that this is a from-scratch product. It’s not something you’re getting anywhere else.

TPS: How do you keep Popped! unique and thriving for your target market(s)?

GR: We’re feeling anybody who enjoys fresh product. We’re always making sure that our shop smells like caramel corn all the time. I just want to make something that’s a truly authentic scratch confection. It’s a matter of our brand consistency and flavor, and that’s what makes us unique.

custom kraft cello caddy poppedKraft Cello Caddies with custom Popped! imprinting

These are flavors that have existed further back in time. We’re bringing that back and our customers really appreciate it and they enjoy it. I really like developing recipes over time that have a unique flavor profile. We tend to do a lot of products that kind of reflect a more sophisticated palette — almost nostalgic! It’s a candy kitchen. Our demographic is anyone who enjoys eating a really well made candy. I won’t sell something that I don’t think meets a certain criteria for high quality, but it’s important to me that they’re priced for families.

My customers are excited to bring these to friends as a gift, in the custom Kraft gable boxesthat Tap makes for us. We sell a lot of our product in Tap’s custom Kraft gable boxes during the holidays, and they are really popular for corporate gifts. I encourage people to use the custom Kraft gable box instead of a tin, because it’s more interesting. 

TPS: What’s your packaging motto?

GR: Good packaging makes your product shine brighter. When I look at packaging, I want that package and the product to be looking like they go together — crisp and stylish, but never stepping on the toes of the handmade candy I’m making.

TPS: How is your experience working with Tap?

GR: I really like working with Tap and I’m always thinking of things we need to do. I think investing in Tap’s custom packaging really gave us a boost when we were just starting out as a brand new business. It really made us stand out. I really appreciate that, and working with Tap was great. Having a warehouse agreement with Tap was really convenient. We were able to have a bunch of custom boxes made without filling up my shop.

Amanda Nugent
Amanda Nugent