Central Pop blends flavors to create unique tastes

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After living in the Midwest on and off throughout his life, Chris Schlabaugh found that when he moved to Arizona, the East Valley was missing something—popcorn shops.

Chris and his wife, Lisa, set out to fill that gap and bring to life a storefront that sold popcorn in a variety of different flavors—ranging from the super sweet to the super spicy.

“There really isn’t a great deal of popcorn shops in the Valley or in the East Valley, so we wanted to give it a shot,” Schlabaugh said. “In the Midwest, you have these popcorn shops kind of everywhere, and when we saw how popular they were back there, we wanted to take a chance and do that here.”

Central Pop offers dozens of popcorn flavors to its customers and changes them up as often as possible, Schlabaugh said.

“We get a lot of orders and calls from outside of Chandler, too; people who live in Phoenix [will] come into the store looking for their favorite flavors,” Schlabaugh said.

Schlabaugh said he likes to create new flavors and work in the kitchen; Lisa is the popcorn lover in the family.

“There are a lot of flavor combinations that you can do with popcorn,” Schlabaugh said. “I like to take things and tweak it and make it our own. I made one on accident with dark chocolate and salted caramel, and it’s one of those ones we sell out of quickly every time.”

Schlabaugh said that throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the shop’s regulars and corporate customers have kept the family-owned and -operated business afloat.

“We are now starting to see our regulars come back into the store; they were doing curbside for a while,” Schlabaugh said. “People will tell me that they keep coming in because they don’t want to see us go out of business. A lot of our regulars disappeared for a while, but they started trickling back in. We are just like any other small business struggling to keep afloat and make it work. We appreciate anyone who can come in and support us.”