Made in Eastern Iowa: Tiny But Mighty Popcorn

By Ashley Hinson

SHELLSBURG, Iowa - The popcorn is popping up in big name stores across the country.

“Tiny but mighty popcorn is an open pollenated corn, meaning It has a large gene pool base,” says Gene Mealhow. “Farmer Gene” breeds the best genes in popcorn at his farm in Shellsburg. Using 8 point of criteria, he nurtures from seed to kernel. He says it is the best popcorn in the biz.

The seed is shipped out to farmers who plant and grow the corn. “I have growers in Illinois and all over Iowa. I try to spread it out,” he said, citing a tough time after the Flood of 2008 where much of the crop and seed was lost.

After growing, the corn comes back, and is thoroughly cleaned with machinery that has more than pulled its weight over the years. “We have heirloom corn…we have heirloom cleaners, “ Mealhow joked. It’s then dried, cleaned again, sorted, and hand bagged. The corn is shipped out all over the country.

“I used to keep track of how many stores we’re in. Now we’re in so many stores I don’t know the number,” Mealhow said. He said the corn is tiny, but the taste is mightier than many of the other commercial popcorns on the market.

“Our goal is to get every kernel in the bag to pop,” he said, explaining that many of the bigger popping commercial corns were bred that way for the movie theatre industry.

This growing operation is growing too... but still has the family feel. “She’s the CEO and I’m the janitor,” he said, referring to his wife Lynn. “We’ve grown from a total family type of thing to where we actually have 13 employees nationally,” he said. That’s a number they expect to see grow.

Growth doesn’t mean Tiny but Mighty will lose its Iowa roots. “I would much rather control the quality and what we’re doing here on the farm as far as the seed and breeding,” said Mealhow. From pop it yourself, to popped and ready to eat, Tiny But Mighty is taking the popcorn market by storm.

It’s Made in Eastern Iowa. You can find out more about it by clicking here.

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