At Grandpa’s Popcorn & Sweets, you get a delicious dose of sweet, savory and spicy. The namesake of the shop is Fred Campbell — or “grandpa” as his grandson, Daniel Campbell, calls him.
The story of the shop starts with Amos “Jupie” in Cleveland, Ohio. About 45 years ago, Amos (Fred’s brother) opened a profitable franchise called Karmelkorn. It quickly caught the attention of his son and daughter-in-law, Jeff and Lynn.
In 2004, the couple — along with their daughters, Holly and Bethany — opened Campbell’s Sweets Factory. It operates several locations in Cleveland.
“They’re going to stay on the East Coast,” Daniel said about Campbell’s Sweets Factory. “And we’re going to dominate the West Coast.”
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Inspired to pursue a career in the sweets industry like his brother, Fred asked for help from his grandson.
Fred and Daniel packed their suitcases for a three-week trip to Cleveland, learning the process through hands-on experience — “what works and what doesn’t work,” Daniel explained.
They opened Grandpa’s Popcorn & Sweets on March 25 on the southeast corner of Nees Avenue and First Street. The various stations of production are showcased behind the counter so customers can see more than just the final product. The shop uses mushroom kernels, which pop into large, puffy balls of popcorn.
Daniel said the secret to success is simple: “There’s nothing like it.”
The draw of customers from nearby Save Mart, McDonald’s and Boston Market is also a plus, Daniel said.
“We can’t keep up with the demand,” he added.
In front of the counter is a sight to be seen: bags of popcorn adorn a shelf that stretches along the wall. The best part? Free samples of 20 flavors, which are labeled by categories: sweet, savory, spicy and a combination of sweet and savory.
For example, spicy caramel cheese is labeled as sweet and savory. The balls of popcorn are coated with caramel and then tossed again with cheddar cheese — similar to Chicago-style popcorn. A generous dose of cayenne pepper that measures 60,000 on the Scoville heat scale is added for the spicy kick.
Daniel said there are 60 different flavors of popcorn. The most popular flavors are caramel, dill pickle and fruity — a combination of banana, orange, blue raspberry, green apple, grape and cherry.
If you have a sweet tooth, try flavors like cinnamon roll, vanilla butternut, cotton candy, cocoa and butter rum.
Daniel and his wife, Cassiopeia, run the day-to-day operations of the shop. The Clovis residents work as a team with a handful of employees.
Cassiopeia starts baking cupcakes as early as 4 a.m. There are giant 5.5-ounce ($2.95 each) and standard-sized cupcakes in a wide range of flavors like raspberry cheesecake, German chocolate cake, strawberry lemonade, caramel apple, carrot cake and chocolate cheesecake.
“My favorite cupcake flavor would have to be raspberry cheesecake,” Daniel said.
But the shop isn’t complete without chocolate-dipped pretzels, graham crackers and marshmallows. Besides M&M’s candies on top of treats, the shop doesn’t use peanuts.
The shop pays homage to Fresno State and the United States Armed Forces. Daniel said Fred served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Discounts are given to men and women in the military, police force, fire service and emergency medical service.
What’s your favorite flavor?
Spicy caramel cheese - Daniel Campbell
Spicy caramel cheese - Micah Ledezma
Cotton candy - Kylie Seago
Pizza - Jennifer Reddahase
Grandpa’s Popcorn & Sweets
673 E. Nees Ave., Fresno
Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Details: (559) 385-7698, www.grandpas-popcorn.com