Old Mill Kettle Corn: Made in Chickamauga
By: Latricia Thomas
A pair of Chickamauga business men who started off popping kettle corn at local fairs and festivals, now have a business that's growing as fast as the kernels pop. Old Mill Kettle Corn just signed a distribution agreement with McKee foods to put their product in more stores across the country.
C.O.O Monty Daggett says "It hasn't stopped growing since day one."
When a slumping economy left Daggett in a shrinking industry and Mike Proctor with a pink slip in hand, they dove head first into kettle corn country. "When we first came out we had consultants tell us you should put Atlanta or Chattanooga on the bag," Mike Proctor says. "No one knows where Chickamauga is." But just a few years later, their kettle corn is popping up all over the world with the name Chickamauga proudly printed on the bag. "We've sent this stuff to Alaska," Proctor says, "to the Arctic circle, to Korea, China, all over the world and all 50 states."
So how do they make their popular popping corn? The pair starts off with bags and bags of corn. "We get truckloads of seed and sugar," Daggett says, "and buy the spices by the pallet load." Then they need just the right temperature in their five kettles.
What we can't show you is the exact recipe of the spices that goes into the kettles, because like at any good business, it's a secret. Vanilla, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and a few other ingredients make it into the pot, depending on the flavor on the menu.
Then the clock is ticking, to find freshness perfection. "Once it comes out of the kettle popped and ready to go," Proctor says, "it's kettle to the bag pronto in less than a minute."
It's down the conveyer belt, and into the sifter. "The sifter takes out the un-popped kernels," Daggett explains. "It takes out a lot of husks and hulls and drops off anything that's not wanted in the bag."
After a ride to the top of the bagging machine, the kettle corn is sorted, weighed, sealed and packaged. And on our visit, a special sneak peek of Old Mill's newest flavor, Fiesta Cheddar, that gets its kick through a different process, but with the same end results.
"Our number one complaint," Daggett says, "is that it's very addicting."
To learn more about Old Mill Kettle Corn, including their new deal with six SEC football programs to sell kettle corn at stadiums and bookstores, click here to visit their website.
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