Popsies offers kaleidoscope of popcorn flavors

Displayed above the colorful taffies, bags containing different twists to the classic popcorn.

Since 2006, many Oak Harbor residents have relied on Popsies for popcorn that could rival the taste of a theater’s addicting buttery goodness. But along with the classic butter flavor, the vintage-style candy shop on Pioneer Way also offers colorful and flavored popcorn to those looking to enjoy a classic snack with a fun kick.

Displayed above the colorful taffies, chocolate wraps and ice cream is a colorful assortment of bags containing different twists to this classic — cinnamon, yellow cheddar, white cheddar, Whidbey Style and caramel.

The Whidbey Style popcorn is a blend of cheese and caramel popcorn and is similar to the famous Chicago Style version, offering a mix of sweet and savory.

According to owner Andy Plumlee, the caramel popcorn remains a customer favorite and follows a recipe that is over 100 years old, while the cinnamon flavor stands out for not being common in the market.

The secret to making perfect popcorn, he said, lies in the temperature and the ratios.

To make caramel popcorn, Plumlee and staff create a mix of brown sugar, salt, vanilla and corn syrup that is melted and mixed with the popcorn as it spins in a caramelizer.

A similar process is used to make other flavors, like the cheese-flavored popcorn, which is evenly coated in melted cheese.

The popcorn, which usually reaches 220 degrees, is then poured onto a cooling tray where staff members mix it while wearing heat resistant gloves. By doing this, the popcorn won’t get glued together.

When the popcorn is still hot but cool enough to touch, it is packed and heat sealed, filling the bags to the top. According to Plumlee, the popcorn can stay fresh inside the bag for as long as six months, though usually they’re eaten much sooner.

The bags show illustrations of Whidbey sceneries, such as Deception Pass Bridge, the Navy’s Growlers, the orcas, the ferry and the Oak Harbor windmill.

Plumlee bought the store from Kay Coolidge in 2022, following the announcement of her retirement. Since then, Plumlee and his team have been brainstorming new popcorn flavors to offer the community.

Currently, he said, Popsies is developing new flavors including maple, maple bacon and coffee, with samples available to try at the store. In the meantime, Plumlee also plans to develop jalapeno cheddar popcorn and hopes to offer fried-chicken-flavored popcorn sometime in the future, a challenging but not impossible endeavor.

Popsies also offers candied popcorn in many colors, which can be customized for events like graduation parties or a Seahawks game.

While the team at Popsies currently produces fresh batches of popcorn once a week, summer demand will require them to produce them every two days.

Two years after taking over the business, Plumlee opened another store in the Anacortes Marina on April 1, noticing the store’s popularity among Anacortes residents.

To further reach community members around Whidbey and Skagit County, Popsies will go mobile, offering treats on board a bus.

After his wife Fran Castro came up with the idea of a ice cream and novelties bus, Plumlee traveled to Southern California to pick up a 28-year-old school bus. Last week, in the span of four days, Plumlee drove the bus all the way to Whidbey Island while community members submitted name suggestions for the new purchase before it gets repainted and equipped.

The person who submits the best name will receive a $50 credit to spend at the bus and will be the first person to be visited by the bus, according to a Facebook post on Popsies’ account. Some suggestions include “Lolli-Popsies,” “The Sugar Shuttle,” and “Sweet Wheels.”

The Oak Harbor store is located at 851 Southeast Pioneer Way. To stay updated with products and events, visit popsiescandy.com.

Whidbey Style popcorn.

Whidbey Style popcorn.


Whidbey Style popcorn.