Ready To Pop

Cover Story

May 14, 2023

Story By: Kyle Galdeira | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

With the graduation season ramping up, and Father’s Day right around the corner, Island Popper Gourmet Popcorn is rolling out gifts and specials just in time for summer.

Island Popper is committed to crafting“gourmet popcorn, all the way,” and the local business has introduced a new gift option to honor that special graduate: a customized popcorn lei! Each Custom Lei ($15) features 4.5 cups of popcorn, which will stay fresh for six weeks. Customers can customize flavors or mix and match to personal preference, and even utilize specific school colors for an individualized touch, as well as colored ribbons representing specific school graduations.

Sealed popcorn cups (four cups for $14)

The Island Popper team asks for at least three days’ lead time for the custom, made-to-order lei, which are also available for shipping via shop.islandpopper.com. Customer-favorite Sealed Cups (four for $14, add 25 cents each for kakimochi or featured flavor) are also great for graduation gifts as they hold 2.5 cups of popcorn and stay fresh for at least two weeks. These sealed cups can be ordered in single flavors, mixes or featured flavors — just like the lei.

Those looking for a larger gift are in luck as Island Popper’s XL Bags are on special all summer long at $48 for three bags (add $2 for kakimochi or featured flavor). These larger bags are perfect for the special snacker in your life, and these and other customized orders can be placed at islandpopper.net, or by calling 808-888-0101.

Three XL Bags ($48)

Owner Andrea Tournis-Vagenas explains that “Our lei will be sure to please! They will keep for six weeks, so there’s no rush to rip them open — the flavors never disappoint.

“Our commitment to quality is what really sets us apart. We start every batch with non-GMO kernels popped in 100% coconut oil, keep the buttered popcorn organic and use only local Hawaiian sea salt. We don’t take shortcuts or skimp on the good stuff.”

(From left) Sealed popcorn cups (four cups for $14), XL Bag (three for $48) and assorted flavor popcorn lei ($15 each)

The business is located at 1549 Colburn St. in Kalihi, right behind the Dillingham O’Reilly Auto Parts with ample free parking right in front of the shop for customers — just look for the big red“Popcorn” flag.

WhenTournis-Vagenas and her husband moved to Hawaii from Chicago a decade ago, a kernel of the Windy City was missing.Tournis-Vagenas was craving Garrett’s Popcorn, hand-crafted Chicago-style popcorn that is famous for its caramel and cheese mix.The blend of tangy cheese and rich caramel popcorn and its familiar sweet aroma helped inspire Island Popper Gourmet Popcorn, which opened its brick-and-mortar location in July 2019.

Customers can look forward to Island Popper’s “Mac Nut Caramel” just in time for Father’s Day, and “Cracker Jack” just because! More new flavors to keep an eye out for are “Ume Shiso” and “Garden Salsa.”

Follow Island Popper on Instagram (@islandpopper) and join the mailing list to find out about the latest weekly featured flavors. Also, text “POPCORN8” to 578-277 to stay informed about what’s popping! There will be a flavor suggestion box in the store and online, so be sure to pop by and drop in creative ideas.

“Our customers truly are the best and make my day every day!” Tournis-Vagenas says. “We look forward to serving more ‘aloha’ and popcorn. Without you sharing our popcorn with your friends and family — and, of course, enjoying it yourself — we wouldn’t be here!”

Honolulu, HI 96817

Hawaii's Best
Hawaii's Best