National Popcorn Day: All Hail the Kettle Corn King

Ken Nercessian was a chef at the acclaimed St. Regis Hotel in New York City, but in 2004, he traded in his apron for a bag of popcorn.

“I wanted to start a catering company but had no business experience. My friend suggested kettle corn,” Nercessian tells That same year Nercessian bought a kettle and some corn, then he hit the streets attending local events and his future just popped.

The $1.9 billion popcorn industry is robust. On average, Americans consume 14 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually, according to research firm IBIS Worldwide. For Nercessian, that means a lot of opportunity.

From original kettle corn (sugar-coated popcorn), chocolate and the more savory sour cream and chives and spicy cajun BBQ; fans swarm Nercessian’s truck every day. “We love our customers, they make us! It’s kind of like a family when they come and follow us around the city,” says Nercessian. “Social media has really helped us out a lot.”

In 2014, Nercessian used Kickstarter to raise funds for a truck. Thanks to loyal customers, Kettle Corn NYC raised over $25,000. Now, Nercessian and his team hit the streets day in and day out, giving out free samples and selling bags of Kettle Corn.

But how can a startup from New York compete with the Orville Redenbacher’s or Jiffy Pop’s of the world? “We really don’t consider ourselves in competition with the other popcorn companies, no one does it like us,” says Nercessian. It’s his secret popping method that sets Kettle Corn NYC apart.

To respond to growing customer demand, Kettle Corn NYC started an e-commerce site where fans all across the globe can purchase their favorite flavors.

Get a look inside Kettle Corn NYC’s truck in the video above and Happy National Popcorn Day!