Tiny But Mighty Popcorn’s ancient heirloom kernels will change the way you think about popcorn forever! All of our popcorn products – Unpopped Kernels; Ready To Eat (Sea Salt, Butter & Kettle flavors); newly launched Microwave line (Butter, Light Butter & Kettle flavors) – are all Non-GMO Project Verified, Gluten Free, dairy-free, Kosher and grown using organic and sustainable farming practices in Iowa. For more details about our ingredients and farming practices, please see the FAQ section below.
Our popcorn is also virtually hull-less! This special heirloom variety grows in a bush with multiple stalks, instead of on a single stalk, and each ear of corn is only about 3 inches when fully grown. Those tiny ears produce smaller kernels than most popcorn varieties today, and when they pop, the hulls (or shells) virtually disintegrate, which means you won’t have to pick those annoying shells out of your teeth! Disintegrating hulls also make our popcorn easier to chew and digest, so it’s better for kids, those with braces or tooth concerns, and those who experience diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease or IBS. Farmer Gene actually has letters from Doctors & Dentists noting their patients can actually eat our popcorn!
Trust us – when it comes to popcorn, smaller is better! Our tiny kernels are about half the size of regular popcorn varieties and are also denser when popped. Denser kernels mean that our popcorn has a more flavorful, natural corn taste and great crunch. Typical hybrid popcorn varieties have been bred to pop larger with more of the white, fluffy element (starch), which does not have much flavor. These hybridized corn varieties have relied on marketing and additional flavoring to develop the consumer’s perception of popcorn. Tiny But Mighty’s unique popcorn has a more concentrated flavor that reduces the need for butter, salt, or other additions. After customers try Tiny But Mighty Popcorn, it’s truly hard for them to enjoy any other variety of commercial popcorn. In other words, it’s grown and tastes the way popcorn should: wholesome & natural.
Q: What makes Tiny But Mighty Popcorn an “heirloom” variety?
A: Tiny But Mighty Popcorn is native to North America and is considered an heirloom variety because it’s genetic makeup is virtually identical to the corn (or maize) that covered North America for thousands of years. We pick up the story in the 1850’s when it was discovered by a pioneer family near Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Either discovered growing wild or traded between the pioneers and local Native Americans, it has been preserved in its original form and enjoyed for several generations. In the mid-1970′s it was nearly forgotten until a family member (Richard Kelty) returning from a career in the army discovered the last remaining popcorn seeds in a fruit jar. He popped some and then planted the rest.
Over the last century, corn crops have undergone a transformation in response to an explosion of commercial needs, such as feed for animals, cereal grains, and corn syrup. Using hybridization and genetic modification, corn crops have become more resistant to drought and remain sufficient for the majority of commercial needs. Unfortunately, these crops have taken control of the food landscape as well and left the ancient diversity of heirloom varieties near extinction. Therefore, what we stand to lose is no less than the history of popcorn—the naturally perfect flavor, its ability to adapt to changing environments, and the social history of a food grown personally and then shared communally.
Q: What specific variety is Tiny But Mighty Popcorn?
A: Tiny But Mighty Popcorn is a super-premium variety of popcorn, and is actually its very own unique species. Farmer Gene has even had it tested at Purdue University along with other experts in the agriculture and seed breeding community. Their response was unanimous: no one has seen anything quite like it and there are no records of other corn varieties remotely similar to the Tiny But Mighty genotype. Our popcorn variety is not technically white or yellow; it is actually what is called a lemon-yellow variety. If you consider yourself a lover of “white” or “hull-less” popcorn, you will fall in love with Tiny But Mighty.
Q: Is Tiny But Mighty Popcorn Organic?
A: Right now our popcorn is not Certified Organic, but what we have is as close as it can come to being organic without technically qualifying. Some of what we’re doing with the growing methods and soil building is actually beyond organic standards, but this unique heirloom can’t produce well enough without some extra help controlling the weeds and grasses during the first portion of the growing season.
The truly special thing about our popcorn is the heirloom genetics it preserves (see above). The challenge that this specific breed presents is that the yields are much lower than typical hybrid varieties – sometimes as low as 25% of what those varieties can produce. When Farmer Gene first started working with this variety as a soil consultant to the popcorn’s original owner, Richard Kelty, the plant genetics were so unruly that the average yield was only about 600 to 800 lbs/acre. The other commercial popcorn varieties typically fall in the range of 6,000 to 10,000 lbs/acre – something the Tiny But Mighty variety just can’t compete with unless we have a bit of help controlling weeds and grasses. What we do in our farming practices to fight these heirloom challenges while remaining as close to Organic as possible is as follows:
A) All of the corn we grow for seed (to be planted the next year) is grown 100% organically (although not certified)
B) All the corn that is grown (both for seed and for retail packaging) is grown with a special organic fertilizer blend that includes trace minerals and other positive elements for plants/ground. Prior to growing popcorn, Farmer Gene was a soil consultant who focused on biological methods of farming. It was in this consulting role when Farmer Gene met the Kelty family who had preserved this unique heirloom popcorn for generations. During this period Farmer Gene used old world methods of hand selecting plants each season to slowly improve some of the traits that were causing yields to be so low. Farmer Gene also slowly created the perfect blend of Organic fertilizer, which allowed this heirloom to finally thrive.
C) The corn that is grown for retail packaging usually has one application early in the season of an herbicide that is “non-residual” or “non-systemic” – meaning that it never actually enters the popcorn plant. It only targets the grasses and broad leaf weeds on contact. Once the corn gets passed this early growth it becomes tall enough to form a leaf canopy that is sufficient to fight off weed and grass growth. Our variety simply takes way too long in the first 1/3 of growing and gets destroyed by the weeds/grasses. However, there are no chemicals used in the second part of the season when the ears/kernels are actually developing.
D) In terms of pesticides to fight bugs, we don’t use any. Farmer Gene performs plant selections every year and over time has made sure the seeds that are used carry the best traits for natural insect resistance. E) This special heirloom grows in a bush with several stalks, instead of on a single stalk, and the plant is only 3-5 feet high typically. As mentioned, Farmer Gene walks every row to carefully select seeds to make sure he’s growing the best quality popcorn year after year.
Q: Is Tiny But Mighty Popcorn processed in a facility where there are tree nuts or other allergens?
A: Our 1.25 lb retail bags of Unpopped Kernels are not packaged in a facility using any nuts, which is located on the popcorn farm in Iowa. This product and facility are processed in a dedicated facility with no nuts, tree nuts, soy, or other allergens. Our Ready To Eat (already popped) bags of popcorn and our Microwave line are flavored at a co-packer’s facility, and we must state on the packaging that it is “Made on equipment that may process soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.”
Q: Is Tiny But Mighty Popcorn dairy-free? What about the Butter flavors?
A: All of our products are dairy-free, including our Butter-flavored items. The Butter flavoring, however, is made using a mix of natural, non-GMO ingredients including vanilla beans coconut oil and/or sunflower oil.
Q: Where can I buy Tiny But Mighty Popcorn?
A: Our popcorn is sold nation-wide at Whole Foods Market stores. You can purchase online from our website (see “Order Online” to the right on this page), or you can purchase from Amazon.com. Many of the locations where our popcorn is sold can be found on our “Where To Buy” page on our website; however, as our popcorn makes its way across the country it’s often hard to track exactly which retailers carry our products. If you don’t see Tiny But Mighty in your local grocer, do us a favor and request to the Grocery Manager that the store carry Tiny But Mighty Popcorn!
Q: I want Tiny But Mighty Popcorn in my store. How can I obtain wholesale information?
A: You can obtain Wholesale information by sending a request via email to our Marketing/Social Media Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org — or you can call the farm to speak with someone directly: (800) 330-4692.
Click below to learn why TBMpopcorn’s disintegrating hull is so amazing!