Family-owned shop brings creative flavor pairings at Popcorn Blast




From left: Owners Dion Burks, Yolanda Burks and Mario Navarrete and employee Jana Cone run Popcorn Blast together on Hwy. 6 in Cy-Fair.
From left: Owners Dion Burks, Yolanda Burks and Mario Navarrete and employee Jana Cone run Popcorn Blast together on Hwy. 6 in Cy-Fair.

From left: Owners Dion Burks, Yolanda Burks and Mario Navarrete and employee Jana Cone run Popcorn Blast together on Hwy. 6 in Cy-Fair.

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A batch of Butterfinger-flavored popcorn is made with actual pieces of Butterfinger candy bars. (Courtesy Popcorn Blast)
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Mario Navarrete, one of the owners of Popcorn Blast, mixes a batch of popcorn for a customer order in one of two large mixing machines on-site. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Customers who stop by Popcorn Blast can add a message to a chalk wall in the business.
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In addition to bagged popcorn, the shop also sells popcorn in specialty tins that can be refilled, including this themed tin for Easter. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
For Mario Navarrete, one of the owners of Popcorn Blast on Hwy. 6 in Cy-Fair, coming to work everyday is similar to coming to work at a candy store. There are opportunities to be creative with flavors, bring joy to customers and see the eyes light up when children and adults alike walk through the door.

“The excitement even when grownups come in, it’s pure beauty,” he said.

The family-owned gourmet popcorn retail shop opened in September 2018 on Hwy. 6 in Cy-Fair. Navarrete runs the enterprise with his sister Yolanda Burks and her husband Dion Burks. Yolanda, whose passion drove the trio to open the business, said popcorn has a unifying effect on people.

“It’s something you can share with your family and all kind of enjoy it together,” she said. “It’s rewarding to be able to play even a small a part in those moments for people.”

When they first started out, all of the owners underwent training where they learned how to infuse flavors into the popcorn, Navarrete said. They have since reached a point of expertise where they can experiment with different combinations, such as peanut butter and jelly, and “unicorn,” a flavor that combines white chocolate with vanilla and sprinkles.


Burks said she is also happy to take flavor recommendations from customers. In one instance, a customer who was pregnant at the time suggested combining dill pickles and cake batter. The combination has since been added to the menu with the name “the baby bump.”

“When you hear those flavors you think it sounds weird, but you would be surprised at how well they go together,” he said.

All popcorn is made on-site from scratch, Yolanda Burks said, and the team endeavors to use authentic ingredients wherever possible. For example, the Oreo-flavored popcorn is made with actual Oreos and the colonels are coated with the Oreo interior.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Navarrete said the team often worked weddings and other events, where they would set up a popcorn snack bar on site. The business can also create labels for the packaging that can be customized for specific occasions, Navarrete said, such as “Ready to Pop” for baby showers. He said he hopes to be able to start doing more of those gigs as the pandemic subsides.

In addition to buying popcorn in-store, customers can have it delivered or shipped, Navarrete said. Although the pandemic did hurt sales over the past year, he said they are hopeful about the future.

“The good thing is, we’re still popping in Houston,” he said.

Popcorn Blast

8475 Hwy. 6 N., Houston

832-593-4300

www.popcorn-blast.com

Hours: Mon.-Sat. noon-7 p.m., closed Sun.
By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.