For almost 30 years, Gaylen Backus has been raising popcorn on his farm. After selling the product wholesale for some time, Gaylen’s Gourmet Popcorn took to making Caramel popcorn treats in the family’s home kitchen in Wentworth.
“Gaylen has always had a farm. He originally had crops and livestock,” said Tyler, Gaylen’s son and business manager. “Then he was looking for the next big thing. He did some research on popcorn and realized he could capitalize on it. Most of the motivation comes from Dad wanting to try new things.”
The company soon outgrew the kitchen and moved into the garage. Now visit the new Gaylen’s Gourmet Popcorn storefront and production space in Madison.
“We usually have about 25-30 flavors on hand. If you count all of the seasonal flavors and promotional ones we’ve done, we probably have about 50 flavors in our book that we bring in and out, or some that are ready for release some other time,” said Tyler.
At any given point in time, there are typically a few more sweet options than savory, Tyler says.
“Definitely our Caramel is one of the most popular because it’s one of the old-fashioned, homemade recipes we’ve got under our belts,” said Tyler.
Caramel Chocolate Drizzle follows close behind.
“When we get to the fun flavors, Cherry Chocolate Drizzle and Birthday Cake are very popular, as well as Bacon & Cheese,” said Tyler.
Another savory classic is the Cheddar Trio, which has a mix of three cheeses. For something a little different, try Dill Pickle, Cheddar Pretzel Ale, and Buffalo Ranch.
Gaylen’s pops three or more 50-pound bags of popcorn each week.
Hard to choose what flavor to order? Sign up for the Monthly Popcorn Box, which comes with four randomly selected flavors that arrive right to your doorstep. Flavors could be new, seasonal, or exclusive.
Tyler says some people sign their loved ones up for a subscription box over a few months so they have treats coming to their door as their gift—especially during the holiday season.
“The subscription boxes are fun because that allows us to put out something new we’re working on or experimenting with and have not released.” -Tyler Backus
Popcorn can be a great gift for anyone, hence Gaylen’s is at their busiest during the holidays with online orders, subscriptions, and more.
“We’ll have about 20 orders a day through our online store,” explained Tyler. “Hopefully this year we’ll be able to do more than we ever have before.”
And for those who like to handpick the gift from the store and ship it, they can handle the shipping hassle right in store.
Gaylen’s will work with businesses, events, and more to create specialty popcorn flavors. “605 Magazine” worked with the company to develop a flavor that’s always in stock at the office: Chislic Pizza.
Consider including Gaylen’s Popcorn for other big events or organizations, too.
“We always love working with people and being part of events,” said Tyler. “We have people that come in whether it’s gender reveals with a specific color popcorn or businesses handing out samples with their logo on it.”
Gaylen’s will work with clients on their big day, graduations, and more.
“For weddings, people will get promotional bags or bulk popcorn for a popcorn bar,” said Tyler. “If someone calls us with an idea, we try to do something to be a part of their event or promotion.”
“We handle the shipping right here in store. They’ll pick out the flavors while they’re shopping, we’ll package it in a box, and then we’ll ship it to wherever they want us to.” -Tyler Backus
Some new Midwest product additions to the shop include Dimock Cheese and Muddy Bites.
In a new building, the business is constantly growing and changing.
“With the expansion here in Madison, we’re wanting to offer a fun environment,” said Tyler. “We just started to expand to be a candy store as well to go with the popcorn. We’re slowly adding more South Dakota and Midwest products, too. We’re really wanting to be a stop that you have to hit in town.”
For more information, visit GAYLENSPOPCORN.COM.