Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Popcorn That’s Tiny But Mighty

By Heather Kennedy, September 22, 2011  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Heather Kennedy

Americans love their popcorn! I can’t remember watching a movie without it. Popcorn balls at Halloween and flavored popcorn at Christmas are fond memories too. I never knew there was much difference from one kernel to the next, but there is!

Our most recent Local Producer Loan recipient, Tiny But Mighty, taught me that not all kernels are created equal. The popcorn (or maize) from Tiny But Mighty is native to North America and can claim the “heirloom” title because the genetic make-up of their product is virtually identical to the corn that covered this part of the world for thousands of years. In the 1850s, Native Americans shared this unique corn with a pioneer family who enjoyed it for generations. However, by the 1970s it was all but forgotten until a family member discovered the last remaining popcorn in a fruit jar. He planted a handful of kernels and popped the rest!

And it’s not just history that makes this product stand out — it tastes absolutely fantastic. Compared to typical popcorn varieties, Tiny But Mighty’s popped kernels are smaller and denser, which results in a concentrated burst of flavor that reduces the need for added flavorings like butter or salt. Plus, when the heirloom kernel is popped, the hull disintegrates, making the product much more enjoyable to eat — you won’t have to worry about sharp hulls stuck between your teeth.

Tiny But Mighty is a family-owned and -operated business, run by Gene and Lynn Mealhow along with their sons. They are passionate farmers who bring their love for this heirloom product to work with them every day. They’re using the proceeds from their Local Producer loan to purchase grain bins so they can increase their capacity and bring more product to market. That’ll be good for all of us because right now, you can only get Tiny But Mighty in the majority of our stores in the Midwest. I just might have to move back to Chicago!

If you are lucky enough to live in the area, pop up some Tiny But Mighty and let us know what you think.

Category: Local




Joni Sackett says ...
This is the best popcorn you'll ever taste! It may be hard to believe that there could be such a difference in popcorn varieties, but believe me, there is. Try it and see!
09/22/2011 8:37:27 PM CDT
Edwinna says ...
You made me want to purchase this popping corn, then I learn I'd have to move to the Chicago area. Does Whole Foods plan to carry this in the future when their production is increased?
09/29/2011 12:34:11 PM CDT
janejohnson says ...
@Edwinna It is a cool product. There are potential plans to offer this product in the future. However, since our product offering differs from store to store based on a number of variables, the best way to learn if your community store will offer this delicious popping corn is to reach out to them directly. I've copied a link below that will help you identify the contact information for your community Whole Foods Market. Pop on! http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/
09/30/2011 2:57:47 PM CDT
Fast freddy says ...
check out seedsavers.org i believe? they carry this corn and you can plant some for yourself all organic and heirloom seeds and cattle!
02/28/2012 9:31:42 AM CST
Claude Dinsmoor says ...
Great popcorn, honest product that echos back to the days before bioengineering and production for yield only. Thanks to Whole Foods for supporting a small business that is bringing this lost food into a global market place.
05/12/2012 8:49:59 PM CDT
Rob says ...
Best popcorn around; I got hooked on it almost ten years ago when Mr. Mealhow's son gave me a taste when we served together in the Army. I haven't stopped buying/eating it since.
08/29/2012 11:20:02 PM CDT
Ben Premack says ...
Hello it has been 3 years since I have had popcorn, I have diverticulitis. I am wondering if this kind of popcorn I could eat. Thank you Ben
09/11/2013 1:41:04 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@BEN - I would encourage you to check with your healthcare professional before adding anything new to your diet.
09/11/2013 3:43:35 PM CDT
Larry Butler says ...
Stock some pipcorn in Whole Foods Market in Los Angeles
06/03/2015 3:19:28 PM CDT
Mike says ...
A while ago, we purchased some Whole Kids popcorn kernels at your St. Paul, MN store. LOVE the popcorn, so we planted some, and it is growing very well. Can you tell me what popcorn variety is it?
07/13/2015 11:16:06 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@MIKE - I would suggest reaching out to the store in MN where you purchased this to find out which type of popcorn this is. If this was something from Whole Kids Foundation, you can email them directly at https://www.wholekidsfoundation.org/contact/ to find out as well.
07/15/2015 2:17:39 PM CDT