Doc Popcorn, a growing international franchise specializing in fresh-popped, kettle-cooked flavored popcorn, completed 2015 with robust retail and franchise sales and a number of agreements to open new locations domestically and abroad in 2016. Its growth pushed the brand past the 100-unit mark in 2015. In addition to malls, stadiums, convention centers, and farmer’s markets, Doc Popcorn signed an innovative deal to open cobranded units with Dippin’ Dots in a leading car wash service and convenience chain throughout the Southwest.
Year-over-year retail sales for the brand increased over 12 percent in 2015, due in part to the addition of Caramel Bliss in late 2014. Caramel Bliss is the first of a new line of indulgent caramelized flavors the brand plans to develop and offer at participating locations. Company executives say the addition of Caramel Bliss, along with a tiered pricing system, increased beverage choices and the opening of several co-branded Doc Popcorn/Dippin’ Dots locations inspired growth over the past 18 months.
In addition to opening 13 new locations in the United States and abroad in 2015, bringing the total number of locations to date to 101, the past year marked several firsts for Doc Popcorn. The company opened its first cobranded Doc Popcorn/Dippin’ Dots in-line store at a mall in Springfield, Missouri, and its first co-branded kiosk in Las Vegas. The “sweet and savory” cobrand match-up became possible last year when Doc Popcorn was acquired by Fischer Enterprises—the parent company of Dippin’ Dots Franchising LLC, maker and franchisor of flash-frozen ice cream and other frozen treats—providing a stronger potential bottom line for franchise owners with another iconic brand.
Doc Popcorn and Dippin’ Dots also entered a partnership this year with Fabulous Freddy’s for cobrand unit expansion into its carwash/convenience stores across the southwest. Internationally, Doc Popcorn signed a master franchise agreement in Oman, as well as opened a second store location in Japan, and signed a lease for its first store location in Santiago, Chile, due to open in February.
“We’re optimistic about the early success we’ve experienced with the cobrand franchise models. With five locations open, the more diverse product offering has increased our sales,” says Rob Israel, cofounder and “Big Pop” of Doc Popcorn. “The sales cycles and the product flavors complement each other, with popcorn’s sales being higher in the winter months and ice cream a big hit in the summer.”
In 2016, Doc Popcorn will be expanding its presence into shopping malls and event venues in strategic locations across the country, including Birmingham, Alabama, Tucson, Arizona, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Spokane, Washington, and Madison, Wisconsin. The new locations will consist of a variety of store formats and brand offerings, including cobrand Doc Popcorn/Dippin’ Dots locations in PopShop, PopCart, and PopKiosk formats. The brand will also be seeking strategic international partnerships in India, the Middle East, and Asia.
“We originally started this brand to satisfy a need for healthier snack options. We had a vision for every location to create smiles by popping its own fresh product, integrating into its local community and giving people who wanted to start their own business a model to follow,” Israel says. “The growth we saw in 2015 to fulfill this vision was amazing, and the opportunities are only starting to be realized.”
Doc Popcorn is well positioned in the marketplace to fill the demand for better-for-you snacks. Using 100 percent corn oil, proprietary flavor blends and high-quality ingredients, Doc Popcorn handcrafts a wide-variety of fresh-popped specialty flavors of popcorn, from Sweet Butter and Caramel Bliss to Hoppin’ Jalapeño and Cheesy Cheddar. Doc Popcorn’s flavors are whole-grain, gluten-free, and nut-free with dairy-free and sugar-free options available.