FreshFind: New Strip District company gets popping

Want to butter someone up?

Give them a kernel of your appreciation?

OK, ridiculous puns mostly aside, there's a new local place exploding with flavor.

The Pittsburgh Popcorn Co., located on 21st Street in the Strip District, opened last month and has created a significant buzz, carefully hand- constructing gourmet popcorn that smarts with taste.

The store is owned by Rob and Genalle Day, a husband-and-wife team who met while working together at a popcorn store in New York City five years ago.

"Kind of weird how that worked out, isn't it?" said Ms. Day. The 28-year-old grew up in Overbrook and graduated from Duquesne University, while her husband, 30, is a Queens native.

The Pittsburgh Popcorn Co. features eight flavors that range from the traditional -- as in the classic lightly salted or real Wisconsin cheddar -- to the unconventional, yet ultra funky, chunky chocolate caramel and cheddar and caramel mix.

One can walk in, be greeted by the mixture of savory and sweet aromas, chomp a free sample and leave with a bag or tin ranging in size from 36 ounces to 3 1/2 gallons and in price from $3.50 to $44. And the Days will ship an order to anywhere in the continental United States, cater a wedding, baby shower or special event or put together a custom corporate or party tin.

The easy-to-root-for Days took out a small business loan to get off the ground, use many ingredients purchased from their business neighbors, live in the Strip themselves and stand behind a simple, yet vital credo: to make each and every popped kernel an enjoyable experience.

"It is pretty simple," said Ms. Day, sitting at one of a handful of tables situated on the sidewalk outside the store. "It is all about making the product you have as good as possible. You have to put your heart into it and believe in it every day when you own a business. If you do that, people will come back."

The Pittsburgh Popcorn Co., at 209 21st St., can be reached at 412-281-5200 and It's open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.

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