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How Deanan Popcorn Fundraiser Became Texas Best Finalist

By Clay Boggess on Apr 4, 2020
How Deanan Popcorn Fundraiser Became Texas Best Finalist

Why schools love selling Deanan® Gourmet Popcorn

Every successful business starts with a strong foundation. Deanan® Popcorn is no different. Started over 40 years ago by husband and wife Dean and Nan Alexander, their passion for popcorn helped lay the vision for what Deanan® has become today, a successful nationwide family-owned and run business.

Although initially focused on selling their product in retail stores, in 1987 the Deanan® founders saw an even greater opportunity before them. Once they made the transition to helping organizations raise money, they haven’t looked back. They’re well known today as one of the premier popcorn fundraiser companies in the country.

Many popcorn manufacturers claim that their product is unique and like no other, but what truly makes Deanan® Gourmet Popcorn so delicious?

If asked what was most important to their business, the Alexander’s would start with family. To be successful at anything over time requires good old-fashion vision, drive and constant collaboration. The children, and now grandchildren, continue to carry on the legacy started by Dean and Nan. They understand the importance of staying on their toes in order to consistently develop, refine and produce the best possible popcorn.

From Colonels to Kernels

Deanan® was founded in 1979 by Lt. Col. Dean Alexander (USAF Ret.) and his wife Nanella who wanted to start a business that they could involve their children in. Today the company is owned and run by their 5 children and involves 3 family generations.

Dean always had a love for popcorn. As a boy, he fondly remembers his family growing and harvesting a small batch of popcorn. Working as a projectionist in a local theater in high school, he’d recall fellow employees bringing him fresh bags of popcorn to enjoy.

His love for popcorn never ceased. After retiring from the United States Air Force, Dean looked for a business to buy. After considering several options, he decided that owning a popcorn shop could help him turn his love for popcorn into a way to earn a living. He also saw it as a place where his family could work.

Over the next 8 years, the company grew to 5 retail outlets before switching gears to specialize in popcorn fundraising. Being more than just a manufacturer, Deanan®is truly a family-run organization.

Today the company is run by Barbara Alexander Hodge, who’s the CEO, along with her sister Janet Alexander Aaron, and sister-in-law Karen Alexander. Part of the 3rd generation is Barbara’s son Tref, who’s in charge of daily operations.

The Deanan® Popcorn Fundraiser Name

How did Deanan® get its name? Interestingly, when you combine the first names of the founders, Dean and Nan, you get “Deanan”. Much more than just a name, this symbolizes 2 people with 1 like-minded goal: to turn their passion for popcorn into a mission that could be enjoyed by millions across the United States.

Popcorn was instilled early in the lives of Dean and Nan. Born and raised on small farms in northern Kansas, one crop was always grown. You guessed it, corn. And after 25 years in the Air Force, corn became the cornerstone of their lives.

The Significance of the H-E-B® Award

No mistake about it, there’s a strategy behind H-E-B®’s “Quest for Texas Best”. It’s a great way to scour the Lone Star State in order to find the best culinary creations from talented Texans. A handful of finalists are selected from nearly 1,000 entrepreneurs from over 100 cities and towns across the state.

To consider entering this annual contest may appear to some a bit arrogant. Yet to not only compete, but become a top 25 finalist is quite an achievement. And we’re not just talking about companies specializing in popcorn fundraiser products. Anyone authorized to do business in Texas can enter. This makes Deanan’s® top 25 finish in 2018 that much more extraordinary.

HEB Quest for Texas Best


And H-E-B® is no small shop. In 2017, their sales ranked as one of the top 100 retailers in the country by National Retail Federation’s annual list, quoting them as a “Texas favorite charging into the top 20”.

According to Forbes, the regional supermarket chain increased their revenue by 12% to over $28 billion in 2018. And in 2019 Forbes ranked them at number 12 as one of “America’s Largest Private Companies”.

The Secret Behind the Popcorn Sauce

Don’t worry, we’re not giving away any trade secrets here, so don’t get your hopes up too much. But what we can do is tell you why Deanan® Gourmet Popcorn is so good.

Quality Family Recipes

It all begins with the rich history and legacy of their family recipes. Every flavor has its own unique recipe that’s developed and tested in their labs. But truly great recipes always start with quality ingredients.

Mushrooms vs. Butterflies

The primary difference between mushroom and butterfly popcorn is the shape of the popped kernel. By pure physics, mushroom popcorn expansion rates are lower than butterfly popcorn. A mushroom kernel is thus round in shape, similar to a ball.

This makes it perfectly suited for coatings like caramel, cheese, or chocolate. The round, even surface of our mushroom popcorn allows coatings to adhere more evenly and consistently.

Another benefit is you can fit more popcorn in less space. In other words, the round popcorn balls fit tightly together and add weight or density.

For this reason, Deanan® believes that butterflies only belong in the garden. This is why they stick with their special mushroom popcorn, which produces a large round kernel when popped.

The Secret to the Large Deanan® Kernel

Timing is everything. Deanan® purchases tons of mushroom popcorn in the spring and ships it by the truckloads so it can be stored in a cold storage facility until needed. Why? The cold storage preserves the moisture in the popcorn so it will pop into the large mushroom kernels they’re known for.

At the end of the day, Deanan’s® fine family history and knowledge, combined with their ongoing determination to use the finest quality ingredients, reflect in their passion to manufacture only the best tasting popcorn fundraising flavors.

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