Cornucopia is a throwback to the days when a niche product could climb off the shelves of Big Box America and stand on its own. One store. One product. One passion.More than 40 flavors of (gluten-free) gourmet popcorn line the walls at Cornucopia — a commitment to climbing the flavor rainbow normally only found at sno-cone stands and Japanese vending machines. There's everything from Dill Pickle (the best-seller) to Mexican Hot Chocolate to Cinnamon Toast to Loaded Baked Potato to Birthday Cake. Plus new flavors introduced A) with seasons, like summer’s Pina Colada and Sun-Dried Tomato, B) when customers share their secret cravings, or C) whenever the popcorn gods bestow a random gift of sweet or savory inspiration (usually during trips to Whole Foods). “We had a culinary student who’s whole job was to come up with new flavors,” says owner Nadia Elhaj. Somewhere out there, an Oompa Loompa is sending in his resume.
Cornucopia is a sort of throwback to the days when a niche product could climb off the shelves of Big Box America and stand on its own. One store. One product. One passion. A handful of mad scientists lovingly laboring to concoct a hundred new flavors of joy — and share them with anyone, everyone in their community. Located almost invisibly on a crowded block of the UT Drag, Cornucopia’s success seems unlikely. But, especially in a town like Austin, and especially with a potent nostalgia-stoker like popcorn (America will eat 17 billion bowls of it this year), it works. “I feel like the Austin community welcomes something different and not so traditional, and the fact that we’re only popcorn,” says Elhaj, who launched the store three years ago with her best friend after finding popcorn equipment for sale on Craigslist.
In fact, if you’ve never been to Cornucopia, there’s a good chance you’ve still seen their crunchy creations around at a flurry of shows, fundraisers, and weddings around town. At the store itself, there are monthly “Free Popcorn Days,” popcorn parties to support local musicians, flavor contests, and a buffet of free samples that are known to cause addiction. Plus loyal, Redenbacher-rejecting “popcorn fanatics,” lined up like monks with 3.5-gallon tins for their weekly rations of puffed perfection (half-off each time you return tin-in-hand). “People come in and they’re so happy, and it’s just contagious,” says Cornucopia’s Amy Damrell. “And Austin just has that same positive vibe. There’s no where else we’d rather be.”
1 Gallon Tin, $20.00
2 Gallon Tin, $33.00
Small Chocolate Gift Bag, $6.00
Large Seasoned or Candied Gift Bag, $7.00
Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday, Noon to 6 p.m.