Crispy bacon, goat cheese, strawberry cheesecake and wasabi-sweet ginger are some of the popular flavours of UK’s fast-growing gourmet popcorn industry, a business that’s estimated at fifty million pounds a year (over 425 crores in rupees). Here, in Mumbai, however, we’re still excited about microwave popcorn. So, when the neighbourhood imported-goods store receives a shipment of the cheese-flavoured variety, it’s reason to celebrate. But all that is set to change, soon.
Elaborating on her reasons for renting a space in high-priced Napeansea Road to sell popcorn, Prabhadevi resident, 27-year-old Neha Goyal says, “I love popcorn and have never found good-quality popcorn in Mumbai, so I figured there must be others like me.” She decided to set up WOW (World Of Wonderful) after investing in high-quality local and imported raw materials. Conceptualised in September last year, the store opened its doors on April 28 and the months in between had Neha, who studied Finance, pore over financial and market analysis reports. But, says she, “The response has been positive and overwhelming. Some of our flavours sell out by the end of the day.”
Mumbai Masala is one such hit. Introduced as an experiment, this isn’t listed on the menu which features the standard five (plain salted, kettle sugar and salt, butter-salted, caramel and cheese), and so it bears the tag, “flavour of the season,” but Goyal tells us that the cheese-masala combination has been appreciated by patrons so much that she may now add it on the menu. She tempts us with news of more seasonal flavours in the pipeline that will be surprises worth waiting for.
Buckets are priced from Rs 60 to Rs 280 (based on size, flavour), caramel and cheese is most expensive (large buckets: Rs 280; large buckets of other flavours: Rs 220). But while the prices aren’t low, it doesn’t keep popcorn enthusiasts away. Patrons we met when we dropped by told us they stop by for a bucket almost every day. They favoured this over microwave popcorn because of a huge difference in taste and freshness. Goyal is already inundated with birthday-party orders too.
“We make our popcorn in small batches throughout the day so it’s fresh and each batch is transferred from the kitchen to the counter in a special box that ensures that no moisture seeps in, and the freshness is intact.
” Also, Goyal shares, pointing out that their sealed buckets allow the popcorn to be preserved for a day or two, “even though we don’t use any preservatives at all.” Since they have ample stocks, Goyal doesn’t need more than a couple of hours to arrange even a gigantic order and is happy to deliver anywhere in Mumbai if patrons are willing to bear the delivery charge or if the size of the order justifies a free delivery.