Snack producers looking to differentiate themselves could think outside the chip or cracker. Popghum, LLC, Arlington, VA, created a popcorn-like snack using sorghum kernels, which CEO Dan Gadra describes as “kid-sized, kid-safe popcorn.”
Because sorghum doesn’t have hulls that popcorn often leaves stuck in teeth, gums and throats, it lends itself to a crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth snack that doesn’t present the choking hazard popcorn might. It’s also gluten-free and does not contain zein, the protein in corn implicated in corn allergies.
“It’s a little nuttier [than popcorn], a little sweeter,” Mr. Gadra said. “It has a little grassy flavor if you eat it right when it’s super-fresh, and then it gets a little nuttier as it ages. It’s delicious.”
Nutritionally, corn and sorghum are similar, but sorghum contains more protein (11.3 g per 100 g vs. corn’s 9.42 g) and iron (4.4 g per 100 g compared with 2.71 g for corn), with fewer calories (339 Cal per 100 g vs. 365 Cal for corn). It also contains higher concentrations of calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
“I think you’re going to see a lot more of these unique kinds of applications with ancient grains,” Mr. Gadra said. “There are so many different things that when you start to play around with them and you start to taste them, you really get a lot of very different flavor profiles, and you get them in grains that are relatively inexpensive and very healthy.”
Popghum is available now in select Whole Foods Markets throughout the southern California and mid-Atlantic regions. Released in the fourth quarter of 2010, the product is still new, and Mr. Gadra said distribution is expanding quickly.