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Betting Big On D.C.'s Next Big Snack Craze

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Kristie and Rich Arslan co-own Popped Republic, a gourmet popcorn company set to launch next week.
Emily Friedman
Kristie and Rich Arslan co-own Popped Republic, a gourmet popcorn company set to launch next week.

Even the most devoted fans of cupcakes and frozen yogurt will need to save a little room for the next big food trend. Some say it will be pie, others say artisanal burgers. According to Kristie and Rich Arslan of Alexandria, popcorn is the new cupcake. That is, if all goes according to their business plan.

The Arslans co-own Popped Republic, a gourmet popcorn company. They've spent two years and more than $200,000 on their online shop, food truck and brick and mortar store in Alexandria. Kristie Arslan says before selecting popcorn as their product, they considered the big food trends of recent years.

"We were thinking cupcakes were big, then pie, frozen yogurt," she says.

Her husband, Rich, came across an article about concession sales, and after a bit of research, decided popcorn was the way to go.

This was back in 2010, and at that time, there was no D.C.-based popcorn company, and no popcorn food truck. Now that they're ready to launch, two years later, there is a bit of competition.

Kristina Kern is the owner of Stella's Popkern, a food truck selling high-end gourmet popcorn. She launched her truck in mid-February, and has sold out of popcorn nearly every day.

Kern has "had popcorn in [her] life for a long time." When she was a young girl, she and her mother would have popcorn dinners where they would try out different flavors. She carries on the tradition with her own daughter, Stella, for whom she named the business. To add to the popcorn heritage, Kristina's last name, Kern, means kernel in German.

Rich Arslan is optimistic about dueling popcorn trucks on the streets of D.C.

"Maybe we could have some popcorn wars in the future, with flavor battles," he says. "I think there's a lot of exciting things we could do together."

If popcorn is going to be the District's next big thing, this is probably just the beginning of some fierce competition.


[Music: "Hot Buttered Popcorn" by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops from Instrumental Favorites]

Photos: Popped Republic

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