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To Market: Snap, Crackle and Pop

Ava’s Caramel Popcorn
Arlington, Massachusetts

For those who have only consumed caramel popcorn from a tin, Ava’s Caramel Popcorn will feel like a decadent treat worlds away from the processed stuff. Each popcorn kernel or cluster is smothered in buttery caramel and finished with flakes of sea salt, creating the perfect balance of savory and sweet. It’s a combination maker Ava Vatsky has loved since childhood—one she’s been chasing ever since.

Vatsky counts eating caramel popcorn with her Midwestern grandparents as one of her “most treasured” childhood memories. “When life set me in the direction of working in food, I set out to re-create flavors I had as a child.”

“My issue with a lot of commercial caramel corn is that it doesn’t have enough caramel on it,” she says. “I wanted to make a product that used only high-quality ingredients. There’s a time and a place for Cracker Jack, but I couldn’t find anything on the market with handmade ingredients that had the same flavor I wanted.”

So Vatsky set out to create her own. First, she sold her popcorn out of her kitchen, but after a few years of tinkering she decided to become incorporated and launch Ava’s Popcorn. The resulting product is a crunchy, satisfying snack made in small batches in Arlington, Massachusetts. Vatsky uses European-style cultured butter churned in Vermont, pure cane sugar, and salt from Atlantic Saltworks, which is hand-harvested in Gloucester using traditional methods. “I went through so many different salts when I was tasting and testing,” Vatsky remembers. “I finally found a flake size that was exactly what I needed.” Not too big, not too small, and with a light, mineral crunch.

The original sea-salted caramel corn is a classic combination of flavors that hits all the right notes. For more adventurous eaters, Ava’s Popcorn also offers several other flavors, including caramel corn with a hot pepper kick (which goes great with a bitter IPA) and a bittersweet dark chocolate caramel popcorn. Caramel, Vatsky says, is “an amazing canvas. I’ve only just started playing with flavors.”

Buy Ava’s Popcorn online or in select stores in Cambridge, Somerville and Watertown.

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