Made in Idaho: Kuna mom the magic behind Black Canyon Gourmet Popcorn

"We have seven kids, it's been busy," said Jessica Astle.

Astle is the owner, operator, and the magic behind Black Canyon Gourmet Popcorn. How does she do it with a family of seven kids?

"It is a lot of work. I'm so lucky that it's flexible where we do mostly wholesale and not retail so I don't have to be at the shop at specific hours. I come here when my kids are at school and if they're sick I can stay home with them if I need to. They're usually watched by my mom or my mother-in-law on Mondays and Tuesdays so I can focus on work, but usually they're pretty good. If I need to work throughout the week I can bring them in and they'll make messes while I get work done," Astle said.

The popcorn company started in the early 1990s in Emmett and over the years changed hands and location to Kuna. Now, the Astle family is in charge, making all different flavors of popcorn. From classic kettle corn, to tutti fruitti, chocolate peanut butter, cinnamon toast, and huckleberry.

"My husband's really good at telling me, 'hey we should try this,' and then he'll come help me cook. A lot of times we don't have ingredients for certain things that he wants to try, so we'll run to the store and come back and try a batch and it fails, so we'll go back to the store and come back. It's usually an all day adventure and three or four batches that are messed up before we get to the right consistency or flavor that we like," Astle said.

From start to finish, the popping operation all takes place on Kuna's Main Street. Astle and her handful of employees spend three days a week, cooking and bagging up the popcorn before it's ready for delivery all over Idaho, Utah, and Nevada.

Astle still makes some of the local deliveries herself, right out of her pickup. And all those kids? They help out too.

"We buy our popcorn by the pallet. There are 50 50 pound bags on a pallet, and we don't have any kind of shipping dock in the back or anything. I go get it from the distributor in my pickup truck and I bring it back here about the time the kids are getting out of school. Then it's an assembly line of bringing bags in off the truck. They really don't like that part of the popcorn stuff," Astle said.

Black Canyon Gourmet Popcorn also offers its products for fundraiser sales. For more information, visit Black Canyon's Facebook page and website.

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