Old Mill Kettle Corn owners Mike Proctor and Monty Daggett receive calls, emails, Facebook messages and even handwritten letters raving about their kettle corn - all the time.
"How many times have you placed a call to a company telling them you liked their product?" Proctor asked. "We get those calls over a few times a week. It's encouraging when people say they enjoy our product."
The Chickamauga-based company has hand-popped batches of kettle corn for customers since its start in 2002 as a local concession vendor in Chattanooga area festivals. Today, the company's kettle corn is popping up in stores all over the Southeast and can be found at Earth Fare, Bi-Lo, Whole Foods and ShopRite as well as many other stores across the region.
Due to the expansion of its distribution the company will upgrade its machinery this July.
"We believe our popcorn is unique and [have] found that when people try the product, they buy it," said Proctor. "No one cooks it like we do."
He attributes long hours of dedicated practice, cooking the corn in small batches and precision in developing the brand's "eye-poppin' good" style of kettle corn to the sweet taste of success it has enjoyed.
"Every batch is cooked the exact same, from the amount of seeds to the ingredients used and timing," Daggett said. "We stress to the cooks that we want each bag at every location to taste exactly the same."
Daggett said the No. 1 seller is the original recipe, a well-kept secret blend of vanilla and cinnamon. He describes it as a unique flavor with a light caramel taste.
Old Mill serves other flavor combinations such as Kickin' Korn with its unique blend of peppers, Blue Raspberry which is a favorite among kids, Apple Cinnamon and a specialty item drizzled in milk chocolate during cold weather months. Old Mill is looking at adding a cheese flavor per the many related customer requests.
Both Daggett and Proctor said they keep nutrition in mind for all their products. Old Mill gives its kettle corn a healthy twist by using all natural ingredients. Each two and a half cup serving contains only 140 calories and is low in both sugar and sodium. Daggett said they take pride that their product is dairy-, gluten- and tree nut-free and contains non-GMO corn and oil.
"We are local guys," Proctor said. "Old Mill is a small company dedicated to giving back to the community and strives to produce and serve the best high-quality snack possible."
Old Mill offers fundraising opportunities to schools, church groups, sports and recreation departments and club groups and has seen the money raised fund everything from tournaments to uniforms and band equipment.