Since October 2005, Paul and Stacy Cannariato have operated Col. Pops Popcorn Company in Wauwatosa, Wis. Located just a few blocks away from the Wauwatosa Public Library and Longfellow Middle School, and next to Daymakers Cafe, Col. Pops’ mission is to offer tasty treats while helping inspire change and community support.
A big part of the business has to do with community fundraising. Earlier in 2005, the Cannariato’s lost their son Vincent to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. Now, 5 percent of fundraising sales go to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to help with SIDS research and memorialize their son. A portion of proceeds also go to an overseas orphanage.
“We’ve been inspired by the help and support we received during our tragedy, and knew we wanted to contribute and be on the supportive end for other families dealing with loss,” according to the Col. Pops’ website.
The store pops up more than 40 different varieties of popcorn from buffalo wing and bleu cheese to salsa verde cheddar cheese, and cinnamon bun to peanut butter and chocolate. You can also purchase popcorn kernels to pop at home. There are 12 different kinds on the website.
There’s not much to the retail store. But really, it’s all about the popcorn, not the building you buy it from. If you don’t see something you like, feel free to ask. I was looking for a larger bag of their Chicago-style popcorn (double cheddar cheese and butter toffee popcorn). I was able to get a large bag for only $17 – a lot more than I can get at Garrett’s in Chicago. At Col. Pops, larger bags are sold by weight, not bag size. And, don’t feel like you need to buy a pretty tin to put it in at home. The bags are Ziploc-like and the popcorn stays fresh for a good period of time.
Behind the plain popcorn, you can find smaller bags of Col. Pops’ deluxe popcorn flavors like cheddar cheese, Milwaukee-style (a mix of white popcorn, double cheddar and buttery toffee) or Triple Delight (movie-style popcorn, cheddar and toffee).
I haven’t seen a Slush Puppie machine since I was a little kid. The White Hen Pantry on 107th and Hampton Ave. in Milwaukee had one (well, not this cool-looking technology). We would ride our bikes up there and get loads of candy and Slush Puppies on hot summer days. I bet this is a big draw to the middle school students who walk home from Longfellow in warmer weather.
Col. Pops is located at 7227 W. North Ave. in Wauwatosa. Visit the website at www.colpops.com for more information.