Hopping Popping Perfection

Step Up to the Plate

February 18, 2024

Story By: Stephanie Lopes | Photos by: Anthony Consillio

Island Popper owner Andrea Tournis-Vagenas has loved popcorn for as long as she can remember. “I was the designated popcorn maker in my house as a kid, which makes total sense now,” she chuckles, adding she would use her grandfather’s beat-up, aluminum “popcorn-only” pot to craft the crispy confectionery.

The Chicago native grew up eating quality kernels, so when her husband’s job moved them to Hawaii in 2011, she decided to start a food truck to bring her passion for popcorn to her new neighbors.

“I operated out of the truck for seven years. Those were some tough days, but I wouldn’t change the way we evolved for anything,” Tournis-Vagenas says.

“We did farmers markets, events and everything in between in those days. And, I met so many great customers who still tell me how they would be so happy to see the truck parked.”

In July 2019, Island Popper opened its current shop in Kalihi, where Tournis-Vagenas and her team craft the premium gourmet popcorn daily.

Island Popper features satiating staple flavors like Hawaiian Sea Salt, Real Cheddar Cheese and Original Furikake. (Be on the lookout for the expansion of its wholesale brand!)

Also, the shop frequently releases seasonal specials. Bunny Bait (starting at $3.50, $14 for four cups) is a must-try popcorn masterpiece this Easter season.


Handmade with real butter, brown sugar and Tahitian vanilla, luscious caramel coats the non-GMO popcorn. Island Popper always pops its kernels in 100% coconut oil.


In time for Easter baskets and springtime treats for friends or colleagues, the festive popcorn stands out with its colorful addition of M&M’s and marshmallows.


Bunny Bait only bounces into Island Popper once a year. Preorders will be available at islandpopper.net starting Feb. 19, and can be picked up in the shop March 10-30.

Honolulu, HI 96817

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