An Interview with Jeff and Jen Martin of Pipsnacks
What lead you into the artisanal food business?
Jeff: Jen discovered the special variety of corn that we pop a few years ago while she was living in Chicago. The first time we made it together I said, “We should sell this!” We were both doing other things and the timing was just not right. After a few years of flirting with the idea, we decided to go for it 100%. We were on a road trip together from LA to New Jersey when we started to develop the idea and brand that became Pipcorn! So that’s pretty much the story, some special popcorn kernels, a few years and a road trip. That is our randomly awesome recipe!
What makes your product unique?
Jen: Pipcorn is a mini, hulless, non-gmo popcorn. We hand pop it in small batches using extra virgin olive oil. It is just Jeff and I doing everything, expect for the days we are really busy and our mom comes! I think the fact that it is us popping it on a stove gives a level of quality control and care that is unique in the terms of snack foods. We love what we do and I think that goes into the product!
What is one of the best uses of your product in a recipe?
Jen: If the recipe is for a good date night, I would say some pipcorn and a movie is all you need! Maybe some hot coco to seal the deal.
Jeff: Inappropriate, Jen.
I’ve never used Pipcorn in a recipe, but I think it’s a great idea. I’ll play with some things and get back to you on this one!
Do you have any guilty food pleasures/weird snack concoctions of your own?
Jen: Hmmm I used to really like toast with butter dipped in applesauce: / … I didn’t think it was weird until my brothers teased me about it. Now I just really like green smoothies that don’t actually taste good.
Jeff: Jen’s is weird, right? I would say it’s more of an obsession than a guilty pleasure, but I eat Chipotle more times per week than I’m overly proud of. Other than that, I would probably say soda. Jen has been trying to get me to stop drinking soda for a while, but now that she’s living in New York, she’s really been on my case to stop. It’s all a good thing because I really shouldn’t be drinking the stuff, but occasionally I’ll find myself sneaking a Diet Coke or two.
So I guess that’s an example of something that was a pleasure becoming a guilty pleasure because your little sister is bullying you into stopping.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
Jen: We draw inspiration from our family, our most popular flavors are flavors we grew up eating. I think also just playing around, taking suggestions and not being scared of coming up with something that is so, so bad. Because at the end of the day, we always tweak it until we get something up to Pipcorn’s standards! Like Jeff for instance created a flavor in the beginning that was quite a doosey, we thought it worked at first but then at a party neither of us wanted to eat it, that is when we realized it might need to go.
What are your geographics and demographics?
Jeff: We currently sell in New York, Connecticut and Philadelphia. We’d love to be easily accessible for everyone sooner than later and are working hard to make that a reality! As far as demographics, I think we are very fortunate to be able to market to a huge number of people. One beautiful think about Pipcorn is that we’ve been able to create something brand new and exciting that people have been eating their whole lives.
What’s great about where you live, besides you of course?
Jen: I would say Smorgasburg and Hot Bread Kitchen; the most inspiring people, doing great things, surround me. Even beyond their greatness, I think the best part is simply that, people are doing things they like to do. There is this hustle and happiness that everyone has that is so enchanting, it is such a community, and I am so grateful to be a part of it!!
Jeff: What Jen said
What is the best part of your job?
Jen: The best part of the job is definitely working with my brother. We are best friends and think everything is funny! We are so incredibly busy and always running around and the more tired we get, the funnier things become. Also the more tired I get, the more likely I am to have a melt down and Jeff is who I would normally call, but now he is right there so its super convenient!
Jeff: I agree wholeheartedly. The last few months of my life have been the absolute best for many reasons, but most of all because I’ve gotten to work with Jennifer. We have such a great time and laugh literally all day long but we also get a huge amount of work done and we can be insanely creative together. There is absolutely nothing I’d rather be doing right now than what I do day-to-day. It’s crazy at times and we sleep very little, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Not a thing.