Taste Radio Episode 126

Angie's Boomchickapop: Angie Bastian

+ Tom First


Take a stroll down the snack aisle of any grocery store in America and there’s a strong chance that you’ll spot a row of playfully designed pastel bags emblazoned with the words BOOM CHICKA POP in a large hot pink font. One could read the labels from across a room; according to Angie Bastian, the co-founder of better-for-you snack brand Angie’s Boomchickapop, that’s the point.

“It’s our job to deliver good food, but let’s do something more than that,” Bastian said in an interview included in this episode of Taste Radio. “Let’s celebrate who we are. Let’s do it in a way that… reflects the simplicity and fun of the food.”

Since Bastian and her husband Dan launched the company in 2001, it has evolved from a tiny operation selling kettle corn at farmers’ markets and fairs to an ubiquitous retail brand with an estimated $100 million in sales in 2017. Success often yields suitors and last year Angie’s Boomchickapop was acquired by ConAgra Foods for $250 million. In an interview included in this episode of Taste Radio, Bastian spoke about the development of the brand, including its foray into retail stores, how femininity and fun were incorporated into a game-changing package revamp and about the company’s process for choosing the right financial partners at different stages of growth.

About a dozen years before the launch of Angie’s Boomchickapop, a couple of Brown University graduates moved to Nantucket and started selling juice blends packaged in recycled wine bottles. Their business was the forerunner to Nantucket Nectars, an iconic brand in its own right, one that’s now part of the Keurig Dr Pepper portfolio. One of those co-founders was Tom First, who has since become a respected investor and advisor in the food and beverage industry and is currently an operating partner with Massachusetts-based private equity firm Castanea Partners. We spoke with First about positive business habits that he’s adopted during his career, along with those that he’s identified in other up-and-coming entrepreneurs We also explore negative habits that he picked up along the way and how he overcame them.

In this Episode

3:44: Interview: Angie Bastian, Co-Founder, Angie’s Boomchickapop — Recorded in downtown Minneapolis, Bastian spoke with Project NOSH editor about the origins of her company, including the early days of bootstrapping and selling popcorn at home games of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, why she believes in celebrating “the feminine with food,” and how that perspective played into a celebrated package revamp and why she views ConAgra, which acquired the company in 2017, as a partner that could “help make us better.”
26:34: Interview: Tom First, Operating Partner, Castanea Partners — First spoke with BevNET Managing Editor Ray Latif about business habits that positioned himself for success as one of the co-founders of Nantucket Nectars along with those that he’s identified in other entrepreneurs. As part of the conversation, First explains why not being defensive about feedback was critical early in his career, why good leaders build great teams and trust people to do their jobs and the importance of face-to-face communication.
52:31: The Cup Runneth Over —  The hosts are joined by Ortenberg, who recently returned from Minneapolis and who spoke about her visit to the offices of General Mills and meeting with the food and beverage division of the MN Cup, which is startup competition hosted by the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. The hosts also discuss PepsiCo’s announced agreement to acquire SodaStream, a maker of  tabletop carbonated water machines, for $3.2 billion.

Also Mentioned

Angie’s Boomchickapop, Nantucket Nectars, Pepsi, FUZE, Jeni’s Ice Cream, Essentia, Brew Dr. Kombucha, Yasso, Mostly Made, North Mallow, Darling Dill Pickle Dip, Punk Rawk Labs, SodaStream