Petcha Rushane, left, and Jeremy Rushane, right, with their two children Spencer, 4, and Jasper, 9, at Jaspens on Tuesday, June 18, 2024 in Monroe, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Petcha Rushane, left, and Jeremy Rushane, right, with their two children Spencer, 4, and Jasper, 9, at Jaspens on Tuesday, June 18, 2024 in Monroe, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A new Monroe popcorn company is pop, pop, popping

Launched 18 months ago, Pacific Popcorn offers six flavors from Alpine Chili White Cheddar to Portage Bay Strawberry.

MONROE — For more than a decade, Jaspen’s, a Monroe company, produced chocolates and snacks for other companies.

But the owners, Jeremy and Petcha Rushane, wanted to do more than just contract work.

They yearned to create their own brand.

“We were super busy making products for other people and building other people’s brands,” Petcha Rushane said. “Jeremy and I felt strongly that in order to grow our company we needed to do something for us. We decided to do our own brand of popcorn.”

A year and a half ago, the couple launched their own brand, Pacific Popcorn, with six flavors of popcorn.

A Mukilteo firm, Ron Hansen Strategic Branding, designed Pacific Popcorn’s packaging, intended to celebrate the Pacific Northwest: Baker Black Truffle, Cascade Ranch, Alpine Chili White Cheddar, San Juan Mix Caramel and Cheddar Cheese, Portage Bay Strawberry and Elliot Bay Caramel.

Jaspen’s, with nearly 30 employes, still produces snacks and chocolates for a dozen well-known brands.

But now Pacific Popcorn is turning up the heat. Each week, Pacific pops some 9,000 pounds of popcorn, Jeremy Rushane said.

“We’re popping 300 pounds of popcorn an hour,” he said.

Today their popcorn is on the shelves at Haggen Food, Metropolitan Market, QFC and Amazon.com, as well as some local mom-and-pop stores.

And the list is growing.

To keep up with demand, the company is building a 40,000-square-foot facility in Arlington, expected to open next year.

It might be a little corny, but each bag from the deli size to the “share” size features a Pacific Northwest story and visitor tips — a trek to “Seattle’s Discovery Park is a must.”

Creating their own product line was a hard nut to crack.

“The first six to eight months was a grind because we were learning something new,” Jeremy Rushane said.

When it comes to food and snacks, the Rushanes are veteran manufacturers. More than 10 years ago, they founded Decor Chocolates, a contract food manufacturer that focused on chocolate-covered nuts, coffee beans and other treats.

Jeremy has been around chocolates and the chocolate business since he was 15 years old. During his youth, Jeremy’s parents ran Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory stores in Burlington and Seattle Premium Outlets in Tulalip.

He interrupted that career to become a news photographer and travel the world for several years.

Eventually, he returned to the Pacific Northwest — and to chocolate, managing his parents’ Tulalip store.

Meanwhile, he launched a side gig in his garage, roasting nuts and covering them with a light coat of chocolate. Ever the entrepreneur, he sold the confections to his parents to stock their store, Petcha said.

Jeremy’s chocolate panning skills, as the process is called, drew the attention of a local chocolatier.

To accommodate their customers — a clutch of well-known food companies, the Rushanes moved Decor Chocolates to a 1,200-square-foot space in Lake Stevens in 2014, sharing space with an egg processor.

Two years later, they moved the business to its current Monroe facility and renamed the company Jaspen’s, an amalgam honoring their two children, Jasper, 9, and Spencer, 4.

“We are a local company,” Jeremy Rushane said. “We’ve planted our flag in the Northwest.”

Janice Podsada: 425-339-3097; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @JanicePods.

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