The familiar scent of flavored popcorn is both unmistakeable and expected at Funky Monkey Corn Company, a gourmet popcorn business that opened last December. Kim Gasperi, who owns and operates the Gladstone business, has introduced some modern touches to the comfort snack food that many people mostly enjoy during the holidays.
Gasperi opened a popcorn-based business because it is a healthy comfort food that is naturally gluten- and nut-free, making it accessible to people of all ages and diets.
“Popcorn is also associated with great memories,” she says. After all, popcorn is connected to the movies and holidays as fun experiences. “Popcorn is also versatile and fun to work with.”
Funky Monkey makes and stocks on-site more than 15 naturally-flavored popcorns year-round. In addition to caramel and hot cinnamon, flavors include roasted jalapeno cheddar, smoked cheddar, cotton candy, dark chocolate with cheddar cheese, and fruity, rainbow-colored Monkey Mix. Gasperi will introduce several more flavors over the summer.
Gasperi is serious about the tagline – You pick it. We pop it. – for her business with a light-hearted name. Customer input is important.
For example, Funky Monkey proposed and presented six flavors to members of City Hall. That group narrowed the choices to their three most popular options. Funky Monkey then invited the public to vote from May 1 to 22 on which flavor to make. Approximately 850 votes were entered at the shop, via the shop’s website and even by telephone.
“Downtown Delight, our Linden Square flavor, was selected,” says Gasperi. “The choice was hot cinnamon dusted with sharp cheddar cheese.”
Gasperi will propose several seasonal flavors for public voting four to five times per year and encourage community participation.
The popcorn maker uses only non-genetically modified corn and natural ingredients. “We use naturally-flavored oils when we can,” says Gasperi. “We make savory flavors in-house.”
Funky Monkey is also collaborating with nearby coffeeshop Head Rush to create Monkey Rush, a coffee-flavored popcorn.
The shop also develops flavors and colors for customers with 24-48 hours advance notice. “We make custom orders for weddings, graduations and other events,” says Gasperi. Black is the only color not available. “We produce custom orders in 5, 10 and 20-gallon sizes.
Gasperi, a former court reporter and environmental scientist by training, places high value on the environment and Northland community where she lives, works and plays with her husband and two daughters. She operates Funky Monkey as a “green” business. For instance, she knew that tins were standard for storing flavored popcorn, but the containers were not environmentally-friendly for disposal. Instead, Gasperi opted for recycled cardboard wine boxes that can be reused and recycled.
Many fixtures and decorative items in the store were recycled from other materials. Shop baskets are made from old cedar fencing. A permanent artwork installation of a gorilla dubbed “Man of the Forest,” made by local artist Wes Casey, is made from recycled, rusted metal. Even the store mascot Ivan, a smile-inducing statue of a monkey originally from Jamaica, has found a new home.
Funky Monkey’s sweetened popcorn debris left after production is saved and shipped to a local farm to fatten cattle. Unpopped corn kernels and unsweetened bits of popcorn are packaged and sold as bird food.
“We’re a zero-waste business,” says Gasperi. “We’re probably the single-most sustainable business in the Northland. It’s very gratifying.”
When asked about the business name, Gasperi smiles and explains, “We came up with the name as a family. We wanted a name that would make you smile no matter what your mood.”
As steady demand for its popcorn grows, Gasperi’s Funky Monkey Corn Company is wildly pleased to settle into its suburban home and help make the community a happier place.
Funky Monkey Corn Company 7115 N Locust St Gladstone, MO 64118 816.701.6232 FunkyMonkeyCornCompany.com