BrownBag Takes Popcorn | to a Whole New Level | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

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BrownBag Takes Popcorn to a Whole New Level

The new artisan popcorn company in downtown Bend brings flavors and fun to a perennial treatBy Donna Britt @donnabrittcooks

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It all started back in 2014 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Lynne Szymanski was visiting her first craft brewery and wanted something to snack on. There wasn't anything. And as the proverb goes, "Necessity is the mother of invention." OK, so maybe a snack isn't exactly a necessity, but you get the point. Szymanski thought to herself, "popcorn" and she got to work popping her first handcrafted batches. It wasn't long before she was selling her tasty snack to brewpubs around the country including Boss Rambler Beer Club in Bend.

Of course, when you have a business partner in beautiful Bend, Oregon, you have to make a trip out to see your client once in a while. Szymanski and her snowboarding enthusiast husband planned a visit and after a day on Mt. Bachelor, fell in love. With Bend. Of course. That love affair with Central Oregon prompted the serial entrepreneur to relocate and make the decision to open her first retail popcorn store. BrownBag Popcorn Co. opened in downtown Bend on Bond Street in July.

BrownBag Popcorn Co.'s bags are hand stamped, recycled and compostable - COURTESY BROWNBAG POPCORN CO.
  • Courtesy BrownBag Popcorn Co.
  • BrownBag Popcorn Co.'s bags are hand stamped, recycled and compostable

BrownBag popcorn isn't just any old bag of popcorn; it's artisan popcorn, locally handcrafted fresh each day with flavors layered in by hand. Szymanski explains what makes her popcorn different, "It's my special technique of applying all flavoring and spices where everything is not just applied on the popcorn, but infused in the popcorn." A dozen flavors are always in stock at the market and rotated every couple of days. The super popular flavors, such as the truffle parmesan black garlic, are always available or at least until they sell out each day.

There's a sampling table set up in the downtown store with the daily featured flavors available for tasting. It's nice that you can actually taste the popcorn before you buy it since there are flavors that you've certainly never encountered. Examples on the savory side include sriracha lime cheddar, honey BBQ, spicy buffalo cheddar, wasabi soy sesame and spicy dill pickle. Sweet flavors include sea salt caramel, white chocolate peanut butter, dark chocolate coconut almond, banana cream pie with vanilla wafers and bourbon dark chocolate cherry. Szymanski is always dreaming up new flavors with inspiration coming from anywhere and everywhere! It was a chicken wing that inspired her very first flavor: sriracha lime cheddar.

Like the popcorn itself, the downtown BrownBag Popcorn Co. market is unique. Szymanski describes it this way, "It's like a big popcorn tasting party with beer, wine, craft beverages and lot of fun stuff to pair with popcorn all in a takeout-style market!" Yes, along with bags of popcorn in hand-stamped, recycled, compostable brown bags, the market carries beer, wine and specialty items like Bloody Mary mixes and gourmet sodas.

A dozen popcorn flavors are in stock daily at BrownBag Popcorn Co. in Bend - COURTESY BROWNBAG POPCORN CO.
  • Courtesy BrownBag Popcorn Co.
  • A dozen popcorn flavors are in stock daily at BrownBag Popcorn Co. in Bend

Considering that the 2022 BendFilm Festival is still underway (virtually through Oct. 23) and the film festival's Tin Pan Theater is literally steps away from BrownBag Popcorn Co., why not bop into the market this week and grab a bag (or three) of this incredibly delicious gourmet popcorn, a bottle (or more) of your favorite beverage and get ready to enjoy a cozy movie night at home? Just an idea.

For those wondering, the wholesale side of the company continues to this day. Dozens of craft breweries around the country carry BrownBag Popcorn including Boss Rambler Beer Club and Crux Fermentation Project in Bend. People can also order artisan BrownBag popcorn online for themselves or to ship to another popcorn lover. All requests are popped to order and shipped the very same day.

BrownBag's popcorn is definitely worth sampling. They're taking simple popped corn to another level, maybe even another universe! The downtown market, which just happens to be next to another local favorite, Bonta Gelato, is worth a visit. But be prepared; you'll probably not to able to get out of there without at least one bag of some kind of crazy flavored goodness that you're likely to eat before the day is done.

BrownBag Popcorn Co.
Tue-Sat Noon-7pm
920 NW Bond Street #106, Bend
541-640-0646
BrownBag Popcorn Co.

About The Author

Donna Britt

Food writer, food stylist, recipe tester, cookbook editor, podcast producer/host are a few of the creative hats Donna Britt wears. Donna loves to hike, paddle board and spend quality time with family and friends. Oh, and she also collects cookbooks and cast iron cooking vessels.

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