Raise your hand if you have ever fed ducks by a pond. Keep it raised if you think a company can be founded from that simple notion.
That’s what happened with Fireworks Popcorn. The original founder of Fireworks Popcorn owned a metal stamping company. When the metal stamping equipment needed to be cooled, water was used and then pumped into a pond outside of the plant. A flock of ducks lived around the pond, and used the pond in the winter to stay warm. Employees noticed the ducks and began feeding them popcorn.
One day, out of curiosity, the owner tried a kernel of popcorn and realized that it didn’t taste very good! Although the ducks seemed to like it, the owner felt the quality of the popcorn could be greatly improved.
Thus Fireworks Popcorn was founded to provide great-tasting, healthy popcorn that is grown by small farmers in Wisconsin. While Fireworks Popcorn is mostly enjoyed by humans, they don’t mind the occasional duck customer.
“People really get into it,” says Wayne Chrusciel, Customer Service Manager at Jonco Industries. “It’s healthy. It’s all-natural. It’s just a great snack. It brings back for older people the nostalgia of when they were growing up and their mom and dad would pop popcorn for them.”
Modern families love it too. Popping corn is healthier and more flavorful than microwave popcorn, which is why it’s the preferred snack among popcorn aficionados.
WisconsinMade Artisan Collective founders Rick and Linda Remeschatis reached out to Fireworks Popcorn in the early 2000s. For Fireworks, this was an opportunity to sell on a national level. Gourmet popping corn is only a small section of the multi-million-dollar popcorn industry, but the market is very loyal. In much the same way, WisconsinMade stood by Fireworks Popcorn after Wayne purchased Fireworks in 2007. Wayne was owner for over a decade before selling the brand to Jonco Industries, a contract packaging company based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where operations remain to this day.
“I’m still managing the brand,” Wayne says, “but also helping with the other contract packaging business. Everything is still the same. We have a small farmer that grows popcorn for us and we package it here.”
Wayne’s partnership with Jonco Industries started shortly after he purchased Fireworks Popcorn. Jonco is owned and operated by Tom Ryan, who also founded the company almost 40 years ago.
“My wife taught Tom’s daughter,” Wayne says. “I knew he had a contract packaging business, and I needed someone to package the popcorn when I bought Fireworks Popcorn. So he started this division to package for me, and now it’s to the point where I’m helping run it.”
Jonco purchased Fireworks Popcorn in 2017. This was a mutually beneficial decision for the both of them. For Wayne, Jonco offered resources that were otherwise not at his disposal. For Jonco, Fireworks Popcorn was an opportunity to grow his company.
Throughout the years, through new business partnerships and owners, the mission for Fireworks Popcorn has remained the same: providing quality popcorn made in Wisconsin.
“What drove the founder of that metal stamping company a long time ago was to find the best popcorn out there,” Wayne says. “That’s still our charge. We want to make sure everyone who buys a bottle of our popcorn really gets the most pleasure out of it as possible.”