Meet the Producer: Eric Thier
Founder and President of Oogie’s Gourmet Popcornuser rating
In 2005, when Eric Thier and a small group of friends launched Oogie's Gourmet Popcorn in Denver, retailers raised their eyebrows at the idea of selling savory pre-popped kettle corn popcorn. “Back then, I couldn't get anyone to take us seriously," Thier recalls. "Buyers would say, ‘Wait, you think people will buy pre-packaged popcorn? Already in a bag?’” If today's snack shelves are any indication, Thier was on to something, and today, gourmet popcorn is the hottest snack trend on the market.
Pairing a healthy snack with intriguing flavors has proven to be fruitful. “In snack foods and overall consumption in general, the trend has been toward healthier, more interesting fare. I call it the ‘Whole Food-ization’ of the mass market—bringing well-lit, natural sets to supermarket chains all across the country have helped educate a lot of previously unsuspecting consumers to the benefits of reading their nutritional labels and finding quality items,” he says.
Launching the company with five flavors—White Cheddar, Smoked Gouda, Spicy Chipotle & Lime, Sun-Dried Tomato & Parmesan and Romano & Pesto—Oogie's has expanded over the years to meet consumer demands. They’ve recently introduced sweet items, like the Original, which delivers a twist on classic sweet and salty kettle corn, and Sticks & Stonez, which brings together Oogie’s Original Kettle Corn with salty pretzel sticks. In a market that is now flooded with competition, Oogies stands out from the crowd by continuing to innovate distinctive flavors.
Thier shares more with foodspring.com.
What is your favorite Oogie's flavor?
Smoked Gouda. It was the first flavor I ever created for Oogie's, and we started the company on the strength of that flavor. Years later, although I get a craving for each of the flavors at different times, the Smoked Gouda is still my go-to favorite.
Who’s your culinary idol?
My favorite chef is Daniel Asher, chef at Root Down and at Linger, both of which are here in Denver. He uses organic, locally grown produce, sustainably produced ingredients, ethically raised meats. His philosophy and culinary skills produce some of the most flavorful, amazing food I've ever had. He's really on the cutting-edge of the natural food movement, and I'm a big fan.
Guilty food pleasure?
Sweets! Specifically chocolate. Oh, don't get me started.
Any recent interesting culinary experiences?
Yes, several. But because they're related to well-known chefs and food personalities whom we're working with to create flavors and popcorn items for them, I really can't say too much!
Aside from your products, what three items can you always find in your kitchen?
Fresh fruits, a variety of seafood and seasonings and spices.
If you weren’t a specialty food manufacturer, what would you like to be doing instead?
Pitching for the Colorado Rockies or defending for Chelsea. Depends upon the time of year.