Everyone deals with hurt differently. For Melanie Fischer — founder of Froggy’s Popcorn and also known as “Popcorn Mel” — giving back to the community was the best way to move forward. This desire led to the growth of her small-batch, non-GMO craft popcorn company that donates 25 cents from the sale of each 32-oz. bag to local shelters and advocacy groups. Fischer creates each original recipe herself, and there are currently 13 flavors available at froggyspopcorn.com. Proceeds collected in August will be donated to the Animal Care Society. Meet our inspiring new FACE of Louisville, Melanie Fischer!
How did Froggy’s Popcorn come to be?
From 2015 to 2017, I was surrounded by death and sorrow and pain. Balance is a big thing for me, so I was looking for a means of outweighing all the bad things that were happening. I just felt like doing something good was going to be the solution; it was part of my healing. As I started looking for a giveback project, I knew I wanted to support animal shelters and advocacy groups, because I’ve always been an animal person. I remember my grandpa catching birds and snakes and turtles. I was fascinated with him, and therefore, with the animals as well.
Also, when I was growing up, we always had pets — they make a house a home. I’m just an animal lover! That was the first step, but it took me a while to figure out that the project was going to be popcorn. I toyed with other ideas, like gourmet frozen treats, but the popcorn idea just sort of clicked. I had this recipe for sweet and spicy caramel popcorn that I used to take to Derby parties and other gatherings — I did this for years. People would tell me, over and over, that I should package and sell it. Then, while I was trying to determine what my giveback project was going to be, a friend of mine said it again: I should package the popcorn I’ve been making and sell it. So, the business sort of all came about over the course of a couple of years. And the name of the company is after my Bengal kitty cat, Froggy — he’s my mascot.
So, you decided to bag and sell your popular sweet and spicy caramel popcorn, but you now have 13 flavors on your website. How did that happen?
Yes, I have 13 on the menu right now, and I’m looking at adding even more. The flavors will likely be seasonal, but we’ll always keep the favorites available. In the beginning, I honestly thought just one flavor would be enough. I didn’t think my little giveback project was going to grow to be so big. I really pictured this like one those barbecue stands on the side of the road. But I first began selling bags at a market in May of 2018 and by July, I realized I needed more than one flavor. People wouldn’t keep coming back for more unless I offered a variety. So, then I started trying to create different flavors. Figuring that part out was a bit of a process, too. I’m just a home cook; I don’t have a culinary background. I started by getting suggestions from friends and customers, then I would look at food trends — that all really worked well. Everything I do is from scratch, which is a little different than other popcorn companies that use pre-mixed, pre-processed flavor powder. I knew that while I was venturing into new recipes, I had to do something different to stay relevant — especially being in Louisville, which is a culinary city. It’s been great because I think it’s just the perfect atmosphere for it.
Which flavor is your favorite?
My popcorn flavors are sort of like my children. So, I don’t have a favorite, per se — my answer to that question changes all the time. Usually, when I make a new flavor, that’s my favorite for a while. We just released zesty dill pickle, for example, and that’s really good. It’s our first completely vegan flavor. There’s also the chocolate coffee toffee. It’s like a coffee toffee caramel, and then a chocolate caramel dip. I really like doing different kinds of mixes. I’m a fan of snacky stuff; I like trail mix and things like that. There’s something about the combination of sweet and salty.
Tell me a little more about the giveback aspect of Froggy’s Popcorn.
Initially, I started with this idea that a percentage of profits would go to animal shelters and advocacy groups. But the business wasn’t making a profit — in fact, it still isn’t.
You’re not making a profit, but you’re still donating? That’s amazing!
Thank you! Early on, I changed the giveback model to say that a portion of sales rather than profits would go to this shelter or that group; the charity changes over time. I haven’t been keeping track, but I would guess we’ve donated around $500 or $600 to various organizations so far. It’s not just about giving back; it’s also about healing. This project-turned-business has really helped me heal. Also, yes, we’re still not profiting, but I think we’re not too far away from that goal. I’m working on a new plan now, which I’m really excited about. Something big is in the works, and we’ll be announcing it in September.
What is the best advice you’ve been given or received?
I have this thing on my fridge; I keep it there so I can see it every day. It says, “Even miracles take a little time.” That’s a quote from the fairy godmother in “Cinderella.” I think that there’s a reason for everything, and there’s sort of a path you’re meant to take. So, whenever challenges arise in life, I just look at this quote and ask myself: What’s the lesson here? Why is it
Aside from faith, family and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
Froggy, nature, and food!
All photography provided.
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