Lawmaker’s bill says popcorn is IN’s snack

Ron Grooms, an Indiana lawmaker out of Jeffersonville, has authored a bill that would designate Indiana grown popcorn to be the official state snack.

Senate Bill 97, the bill authored by Grooms that would designate Indiana-grown popcorn as the official state snack, states that Indiana produces nearly 500 million pounds of popcorn on Hoosier soil each year and that Indiana is the second-leading popcorn producer in the country, topped only by Nebraska.

A quick internet search will show that the average American will eat up to 68 quarts of popcorn each year, which adds up to an average of 17.3 billion quarts annually for the country.

While some may first think of Purdue University graduate Orville Redenbacher and his brand of the popular snack, the Weaver Popcorn Company put Van Buren on the map in the popcorn industry.

The Weaver Popcorn Bulk website boasts that the company is the “largest bulk popcorn producer in the world” and serves businesses in more than 90 countries.

Weaver Popcorn has been a family-owned business since the late 1920s when Rev. Ira Weaver, aka I.E. Weaver, set out to “make the world’s finest popcorn” and chose Indiana farmland as his starting point.

Martha Stephan, daughter of Paul L. Weaver, says that I.E. Weaver started the popcorn company with the help of her father, who had been farming in Illinois at the time.

“The story goes that grandpa said ‘Get back here! I can’t grow enough popcorn!’” she recalled.

According to popweaver.com, I.E. Weaver shucked and bagged his own popcorn and personally delivered it to his customers on a horse-drawn wagon. “It’s really a classic American Dream story,” Stephan said. “He started as a small-time farmer and grew his own company.”

Shortly after the company took off, another Weaver son, Welcome Weaver, came back home after receiving a Doctorate of Organic Chemistry and became the Weaver Popcorn Company Manager. At one point, the company connected with Purdue University, discussing germination practices and popcorn breeding. Purdue University is credited with assisting plant breeders with pioneering popcorn breeding in the late 1930s and 1940s in Grooms’ bill.

The Weaver Popcorn Bulk company offers a variety of products, including kernel varieties such as Weaver Gold, Large Kernel, Carmel & Sweet, Mammoth Mushroom, White Kernel, Organic and Classic.

They also offer NaksPak portion packs, which are pre-measured portion packs that include popcorn kernels, oil and seasoning to aid companies with the popping process.

The Weaver Popcorn Company also dedicates themselves to growing quality popcorn and only allowing the most progressive and dedicated farmers to do so. Their website states that their contract farmers “practice good farm management, including periodic soil testing for nutrient management and crop rotation.”

Weaver Popcorn has been family owned and operated since the beginning. Starting with I.E. Weaver, it has passed through four generations of Weaver family members and company headquarters are now based out of Indianapolis. The company is currently under the direction of Will Weaver, the son of Mike Weaver. Together, these four men mark the four generations of the company.

The Senate Agriculture Committee met in January to vote on the bill proposed by Grooms and the bill passed 7-0. Three amendments were made to the bill to better clarify the meaning of which popcorn would be considered the state snack. Rather than reading “Indiana grown popcorn” the bill would read “popcorn grown in Indiana.”

Should the bill be fully approved and passed, it will go into effect on July 1. It will be added into the Indiana Code as a new chapter, Chapter 16. According to the latest bill text, section one of the chapter will read, “Popcorn grown in Indiana is designated as the official state snack of Indiana.”