On The Road With Black Jewell – Sweets & Snacks

About Sweets & Snacks

On May 23-25, Black Jewell Popcorn exhibited at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago. With over 800 vendors covering approximately 4 acres of exhibit space, Sweets & Snacks is a “must attend” event for the food industry. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the show and was attended by over 17,000 people. For Black Jewell Popcorn, after a successful debut in 2016, this marked our 2nd time exhibiting at the event.

What do attendees see at the show?  Well, Sweets & Snacks pretty much sums it up.  From the largest candy and chocolate companies like Hershey, M&M/Mars, and Wrigley, to jerky, snack bars, and, of course, popcorn. Actually, there were over 80 popcorn companies at the expo this year! Can you believe it? That means 1 in every 10 vendors at the show was showing and sampling some form of popcorn.


Black Jewell Booth Setup
Finished booth setup for the 2017 Sweets & Snacks Expo!

Black Jewell set-up shop in a 10×10 booth that highlighted all of our brands and items. Once the expo opened I had non-stop activity, and, because you never know when a large company buyer might come by, I was in the booth presenting the entire time. To most people, 3 solid days of being on your feet presenting your product repeatedly sounds awful. But, honestly, it was a lot of fun (though I did go to bed exhausted every night). I met tons of great people, spread our story, and got a chance to watch their reactions after tasting the difference of Black Jewell.

As usual, our most popular popcorn was our Original Black heirloom popcorn. Seems word of our unique popcorn that starts as a small black kernel and pops up pure white, with a crunchy texture, is getting out to more and more people. Plus, we were sampling our new Null Hull ready-to-eat popcorn in both Sea Salt and White Cheddar flavors. It was close but I think more people opted for the White Cheddar at this particular show. We were in very close proximity to some other popcorn companies handing out samples and it was always very satisfying to get a response from someone who happened to be trying our Null Hull along with someone else’s popcorn. Responses of “wow,” and “oh wow,” and “wow, just wow” are not uncommon. Of course, if you have eaten our popcorn, you know this already.

Stacking Up

Some of you probably wonder how a company like Black Jewell could gain attention at a show this large, with so many large companies presenting, and such a large number of popcorn options. Well, here’s an interesting stat. The folks who run the show tell the exhibitors in advance how many attendees searched for their brand, and rank you overall and in your category. Black Jewell ranked 144th overall out of the over 800 companies in terms of attendee interest in the brand and we ranked 20th out of the over 80 popcorn brands in attendance!  So, yeah…I’d say we did pretty good.

After the show, we started conversations with some new national retailers who recognize the difference of our popcorn, and it’s something they believe their customers will be interested in. We also met with some of our existing retailers, who have been a huge help spreading the popularity of our products. In fact, just after the show one of our retailers placed an order with us that will represent our largest order of the year so far! So, the growth of Black Jewell continues.

Where To Find Us Next

Now we are getting ready for the Holiday Show with our largest distributor, KeHE.  We will be in Minneapolis on June 12-13, 2017 telling our story, and sampling our popcorn for buyers.

Keep following the blog to see where I’ll pop up next!


(Barry Johnson, President & COO of Black Jewell, regularly attends industry events, shows, expos, conventions, and so on to promote Black Jewell popcorn and spread the story of our unique kernels.)

The Importance of Antioxidants

More Antioxidant Power Than Any Other Brand

Like most people, you have probably heard a lot in the past few years about antioxidants and how important they can be to your health. You can’t pick up a magazine, turn on the radio, or watch a Morning Talk Show without someone touting the benefits of an antioxidant rich diet. However, unlike some of the other things the media talks about, the power of antioxidants has real science behind it.

Antioxidants fight Free Radicals in your body. These come from disruptions in natural oxidation processes, the foods you eat, and even the air you breathe. If left unchecked they can cause damage to your cells, and even to your DNA. Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals, preventing them from causing any damage.

The best sources of antioxidants are plant-based foods, and naturally dark colored fruits and vegetables have the highest concentration of specific antioxidant compounds. For example, the unique dark color of Black Jewell Original Black kernels make them rich in both polyphenols and anthocyanins (an antioxidant flavonoid). In fact, our Original Black kernels have over 80 mg of these antioxidants combined, per serving (more than any other popcorn on the market)!

We always try to make the healthiest decisions for our families, and one of the easiest is to replace unhealthy items with healthier alternatives. The antioxidant power of our Original Black kernels is just one more reason why Black Jewell is the smart choice for you and your loved ones.

Soil Temperature & Waiting for the Optimal Conditions

When it Comes to Popcorn, Patience is a Virtue

As the weather starts to get warmer, and the sun shines a bit longer, we all start feeling a little impatient. We want to get outside. Maybe you’ve thought all winter about your garden. We have too. Only on a much bigger scale. But a little patience now will get you big rewards later.

Here in the Heartland, Black Jewell grows the World’s Finest Heritage Popcorns, weather can change in an instant. Young corn shoots are incredibly susceptible to frost damage. Talk to any farmer in the area and they’ll tell you a horror story about a late season snow that wiped out an otherwise healthy young crop. So it is important to wait until after all chance of cold snaps and below freezing night have passed.

Our family farmers take great pride in their crops. They are out in the fields every day checking the conditions. Much like other corn, ideally you want a soil temperature around 60°F maintained for several days. They are also looking for a soil PH of 6.0, a high nitrogen content, and soil which is moist, but not too wet. Things aren’t quite there yet, with soil temperatures of only 54°F,and some recent heavy rains, but we’re getting close. Very, very close.

Remember though, while our farmers have to wait to get into the fields and start planting, you get to enjoy delicious Black Jewell popcorn year round. Lucky you.

What makes Original Black so special?

It’s All About The Kernels

The difference between Black Jewell kernels is obvious from even the quickest glance. Unlike the typical yellow or white popcorn you see loaded on your shelves at the local supermarket, the vibrant colors of our popcorn varieties stick out. Our most popular kernel, and the one which is the most striking, is our Original Black. But is there a real difference between our heritage black popcorn and the standard yellow corn you’re used to, or is the difference only hull deep? To answer this question, and to truly understand the amazing differences between the two, we need to start at the beginning.

Almost all of the popcorn grown (around 95%) is of the yellow variety, but why is that?  Why does every major popcorn brand use, essentially, the exact same corn? Well, like most fruits and vegetables you’ll find in your local supermarket, popcorn has been bred over the years to be easy to grow and harvest, store for long periods of time, and look a certain way. Yellow popcorn kernels are very large, have thick hulls, and pop very big and dense. Just like with mass-produced tomatoes, this selective breeding is often done at the sacrifice of flavor. As anyone who has ever grown tomatoes in their home gardens can verify.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are our Original Black kernels. This heirloom strain was all but forgotten before Black Jewell began growing it to sell to local markets in 1963. Unlike the common yellow corn, our Original Black kernels are very small, and have a thin, light hull which disintegrates when popped. This means no more pesky hulls getting stuck in your teeth. They also create smaller, flakier pieces of popcorn with a slight crunch and a huge flavor.

Make sure to tell your local grocer to carry Black Jewell Original Black kernels. Once you’ve tasted the difference we’re sure you won’t be able to go back to the typical, boring yellow corn you’re used to.