Cultured Pop: Bougie Popcorn in Sault Ste Marie
Episode 1214th August 2023 • Total Michigan • Cliff Duvernois
00:00:00 00:32:56

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Cultured Pop is just one of the great stores that Steve and Kathy Twardy own in Sault Ste Marie. This store holds not only great bougie popcorn but also an impressive collection of olive oils and vinegars. In this episode, Kathy and Steve share why they decided to call Sault Ste Marie home, how they got started, and why "Michigan Made" has become their credo.

Address:

341 W Portage Ave,

Sault Ste. Marie, MI

49783

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Cultured Pop Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CulturedPopSoo/

Website: https://saultstemarie.com/places/cultured-pop/

Transcripts

Kathy Twarty:

I always like to say that Michigan could be its own country.

Kathy Twarty:

Because we really have almost all of the agriculture here that we

Kathy Twarty:

would need to sustain ourselves.

Steve Twarty:

anytime we're looking to bring something new into any

Steve Twarty:

one of our stores, the first thing we do is try to find someone

Steve Twarty:

who's producing it in Michigan.

Steve Twarty:

I've eaten everything that we sell, and if we don't like it, we don't sell it.

Cliff Duvernois:

Hello everyone and welcome to Total Michigan.

Cliff Duvernois:

I am your host, Cliff DuVernois.

Cliff Duvernois:

Continuing my series in, wonderful Sault St.

Cliff Duvernois:

Marie.

Cliff Duvernois:

And today, I'm sitting with a couple people that are fixtures

Cliff Duvernois:

in the community up here.

Cliff Duvernois:

And that would be Kathy and Steve Twarty.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yes.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yes.

Cliff Duvernois:

And they are the owners of Cultured Pop.

Cliff Duvernois:

So as you're going down the main avenue here in, Sault Ste.

Cliff Duvernois:

Marie, and it's a beautiful little shop, and I'm gonna

Cliff Duvernois:

let Steve and, Kathy introduce themselves and, let's jump into it.

Cliff Duvernois:

So how are you guys doing?

Kathy Twarty:

Doing great

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Steve Twarty:

good morning.

Steve Twarty:

Cliff.

Cliff Duvernois:

Good

Kathy Twarty:

sunny day in Sault St.

Kathy Twarty:

Marie.

Cliff Duvernois:

You know what?

Cliff Duvernois:

I, we've been absolutely blessed Yes.

Cliff Duvernois:

over the past few days with how wonderful the weather is.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

Steve, why don't you tell us a little bit about where you're

Cliff Duvernois:

from and where you grew up.

Steve Twarty:

I'm, I grew up in upstate New York.

Steve Twarty:

that was a long time ago.

Steve Twarty:

I've spent a great deal of time moving around the country.

Steve Twarty:

I spent 10, 12 years in the Coast Guard.

Steve Twarty:

I got to live in some cool places like Alaska and Florida.

Steve Twarty:

And, and, yeah.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Steve Twarty:

The four Corners I was in Maine and, after that, I did

Steve Twarty:

some time with t-Mobile, which brought us all around the country.

Steve Twarty:

Again, we lived in Denver, Chicago, dc, new York, and then we were in New York

Steve Twarty:

and we decided this is not New York City.

Steve Twarty:

So we decided this is not where we want our kids to grow up.

Steve Twarty:

we moved to St.

Steve Twarty:

Marie, which is about as far from new York City as you can get.

Cliff Duvernois:

the, yeah, so that's true.

Cliff Duvernois:

So I'm gonna imagine that somehow or another, Kathy, that your

Cliff Duvernois:

backstory, you have a connection.

Cliff Duvernois:

So talk to us that.

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

I like to point out to Steve all the time that I am a yooper.

Kathy Twarty:

we go.

Kathy Twarty:

And so I'm not, he is not and never can be.

Kathy Twarty:

So yoopers are very passionate about who we are, right?

Kathy Twarty:

We need to be born in the up in order to be like a true yooper.

Kathy Twarty:

So I was born and raised here, fourth generation Yoopers.

Kathy Twarty:

my mom is a troll.

Kathy Twarty:

She'll never be a Yooper.

Kathy Twarty:

But she gave birth to four yoopers.

Cliff Duvernois:

I wondered if that was still a thing.

Cliff Duvernois:

a thing.

Cliff Duvernois:

When I came up here, I saw a hat at the store that said, I wanna be a Yooper.

Cliff Duvernois:

And I almost thought about getting it, but I was like, it's, does

Cliff Duvernois:

anyone even remember the troll thing?

Cliff Duvernois:

okay, there you

Cliff Duvernois:

go.

Cliff Duvernois:

It's

Kathy Twarty:

So that's the connection there.

Kathy Twarty:

But I met Steve when he was in the Coast Guard and at like he said, we moved around

Kathy Twarty:

the country and we decided to come back here and the goal was to settle down.

Kathy Twarty:

Sure.

Kathy Twarty:

pull out of the corporate life, and Yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

And Steve likes to work.

Kathy Twarty:

No.

Kathy Twarty:

So we moved back here and we started buying and opening businesses,

Kathy Twarty:

and now we're up to four now.

Cliff Duvernois:

wow.

Cliff Duvernois:

That's, that's amazing.

Cliff Duvernois:

So what are, just real quick, what are your four businesses, because I

Cliff Duvernois:

know we wanna talk about Culture Pop,

Cliff Duvernois:

Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

are

Cliff Duvernois:

the

Kathy Twarty:

We own a health food store in town.

Kathy Twarty:

And then the second one that we opened was this one.

Kathy Twarty:

And then included with this one Cultured Pop.

Kathy Twarty:

We have a wholesale oil and vinegar business that we'll

Kathy Twarty:

also highlight in a minute.

Kathy Twarty:

So that's business number three.

Kathy Twarty:

And then two and a half years ago, We opened a small food market in

Kathy Twarty:

what they would call a food desert, where there was no access to food

Kathy Twarty:

within a half a mile for residents.

Kathy Twarty:

And so we opened a small food market as well.

Cliff Duvernois:

Perfect.

Cliff Duvernois:

So to keep the story going, so you guys moved to Sault ste.

Cliff Duvernois:

Marie, and like you said, before you decided to start buying businesses.

Cliff Duvernois:

Why did you decide to go that route versus just go out and get a job?

Kathy Twarty:

I

Kathy Twarty:

don't, to be honest,

Kathy Twarty:

why?

Steve Twarty:

So that was an organic evolution.

Steve Twarty:

Right.

Steve Twarty:

So we bought, when we were sitting in new York, we talked about options.

Steve Twarty:

And one of the options was Sault Ste.

Steve Twarty:

Marie, because that's where Kathie grew up.

Steve Twarty:

And she goes, there's a health food store there.

Steve Twarty:

Maybe I'll call them and see if they'd be interested in selling.

Steve Twarty:

This was on a Saturday.

Steve Twarty:

On Monday she called and, Within 15 minutes they had a price for us.

Steve Twarty:

So we bought the health food store, we moved here and and for the first

Steve Twarty:

five or six years that was, that consumed everything that we did.

Steve Twarty:

but small business in a small town, nothing ever stays the same for very long.

Steve Twarty:

So as the business began to evolve, we had to evolve with it .And part

Steve Twarty:

of that evolution was this store.

Steve Twarty:

and it came at exactly the right time.

Steve Twarty:

And once we got into this store, we had the idea for the oil

Steve Twarty:

and vinegar business for years.

Steve Twarty:

And an opportunity to make that happen just appeared outta nowhere.

Steve Twarty:

And so we did it.

Steve Twarty:

And we added the oil and vinegar to this business.

Steve Twarty:

Did that for a few years, and then all of a sudden, somebody, two

Steve Twarty:

different people came walking in one here and one at the health food

Steve Twarty:

store where I was on the same day.

Steve Twarty:

I think it was a, there was a little coercion going there.

Steve Twarty:

Wow.

Steve Twarty:

And they're like, hey, Osborne Commons is being built, in town here

Steve Twarty:

and there's gonna be retail spaces.

Steve Twarty:

Is there something that you guys can do there.

Steve Twarty:

And my immediate reaction was, no, we have enough going on.

Steve Twarty:

And then we went home that night and she was like, man, I had

Steve Twarty:

this really weird conversation.

Steve Twarty:

so did i.

Steve Twarty:

Well, maybe there is something we can do there.

Steve Twarty:

And it, you know, wham bam.

Steve Twarty:

All of a sudden we have A third store.

Steve Twarty:

And so we haven't really tried to do much other than the health food store.

Steve Twarty:

It just seems to happen.

Kathy Twarty:

When this space became available, so we rent this space,

Kathy Twarty:

And when this space became available, the landlord brought us in here

Kathy Twarty:

on a really cold March day, okay?

Kathy Twarty:

And we came walking in and I said, wow, what a cool space.

Kathy Twarty:

And she said, great, because this is your new store.

Kathy Twarty:

And I said, what new store?

Kathy Twarty:

And she said, you have two months to open.

Kathy Twarty:

Can you make it happen?

Kathy Twarty:

And I said to Steve, I said, you know what, I've always been wanting

Kathy Twarty:

to open a popcorn store in this town because there's no popcorn store.

Kathy Twarty:

And he said, do you make popcorn?

Kathy Twarty:

I said, well, I'll figure it out.

Kathy Twarty:

So I have figured it out and yeah, we were ready to open.

Kathy Twarty:

I could see the vision in my head of what we wanted it to be.

Kathy Twarty:

We're very passionate about stimulating a local economy.

Kathy Twarty:

And after you stimulate.

Kathy Twarty:

Stimulate your local economy, you wanna expand that out.

Kathy Twarty:

We wanted to expand it out to Michigan and so everything in this store, other

Kathy Twarty:

than the Sprecker pop is made in Michigan and the Sprecker is made in Wisconsin

Kathy Twarty:

and we're still attached to them.

Kathy Twarty:

So yeah, even my popcorn comes from a Michigan grown corn who

Kathy Twarty:

we've known the farmers since we bought the health food store.

Kathy Twarty:

And so we're very passionate about only using his corn because

Kathy Twarty:

it's a high quality product.

Kathy Twarty:

We know we've been to his factory.

Kathy Twarty:

Steve drives down to Ann Arbor every single year to pick up my thousand pounds.

Kathy Twarty:

Whoa.

Kathy Twarty:

Yep.

Kathy Twarty:

Thousand pounds of corn is what I go through in six months, all by

Kathy Twarty:

myself with that little tiny popper.

Cliff Duvernois:

So what I'd like to do is I'd like to take a step back here.

Cliff Duvernois:

And of course I'm a

Cliff Duvernois:

sucker for really good popcorn.

Cliff Duvernois:

But you just said, I had this dream of always making

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

Where

Kathy Twarty:

I, to be honest, I'm not sure.

Kathy Twarty:

when we walk around Sault St.

Kathy Twarty:

Marie all the time, we're always looking at missing markets.

Kathy Twarty:

And so Steve and I really have 10 more ideas, but being

Kathy Twarty:

able to implement those, Yes.

Kathy Twarty:

not enough hours in the day.

Kathy Twarty:

And so the oil and vinegar was a missing market that we've seen around the

Kathy Twarty:

state and around the country where you bring in Italian oil and vinegar, but

Kathy Twarty:

you market it to your local location.

Kathy Twarty:

Sure.

Kathy Twarty:

And you try to infuse it with local products to make it very unique to you.

Kathy Twarty:

So that was a missing market.

Kathy Twarty:

The popcorn was a missing market.

Kathy Twarty:

So we're trying to fill those voids for our small town to

Kathy Twarty:

get people to come and stay.

Cliff Duvernois:

So now when we're talking about popcorn We're not just talking

Cliff Duvernois:

about like movie theater style popcorn.

Cliff Duvernois:

'cause you've got.

Cliff Duvernois:

All kinds of flavors that are going on.

Cliff Duvernois:

Talk to us about, what it's first talk to us, leah, about how do

Cliff Duvernois:

you come up with the flavors

Kathy Twarty:

right and that's why it's called Cultured Pop.

Kathy Twarty:

Because it's bougie popcorn or it's popcorn with culture.

Kathy Twarty:

Is what I like to say.

Kathy Twarty:

So I start with that Michigan grown non G M O red corn and

Kathy Twarty:

I only pop in coconut oil.

Kathy Twarty:

And one of the reasons that I only pop in coconut oil is because it's a much

Kathy Twarty:

healthier oil than a lot of what your other traditional popcorn is popped in,

Kathy Twarty:

which is not even really oil, right?

Kathy Twarty:

It's a synthetic.

Kathy Twarty:

And because I have a background in health food, I wanted to make sure that I was

Kathy Twarty:

starting with a really healthy product.

Kathy Twarty:

And then I came up with all of the ingredients just by traveling, by

Kathy Twarty:

being places and trying different food, trying different drinks.

Kathy Twarty:

Sometimes if I even have a coffee or a latte, I'll look at Steve and

Kathy Twarty:

say, I can put this on popcorn.

Kathy Twarty:

Like this would just make sense to do honey and lavender on popcorn.

Kathy Twarty:

'cause if it's yummy in my coffee, I can put it on corn.

Cliff Duvernois:

Nice.

Steve Twarty:

Sometimes we just sit around and throw ideas out.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Steve Twarty:

So like, maybe with a glass of wine.

Steve Twarty:

We'll just say, what about this?

Steve Twarty:

This?

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Steve Twarty:

I don't think so.

Steve Twarty:

But what about this?

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Steve Twarty:

And

Steve Twarty:

And that's where quite a few of them came up with.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

The most recent one this year is dragon fruit and Lime, because if

Kathy Twarty:

you've ever been to Badger State Brewing Company in Green Bay, there's

Kathy Twarty:

a, and it's a locally owned brewery.

Kathy Twarty:

They have a dragon fruit and lime seltzer.

Kathy Twarty:

And we were there a couple months ago and I said, this is one of

Kathy Twarty:

the most refreshing seltzers.

Kathy Twarty:

I can put this on popcorn.

Kathy Twarty:

And so they go really well together.

Kathy Twarty:

It's almost like a crushed up.

Kathy Twarty:

I hate to make it sound simple, but it's almost like a crushed up sweet tart on

Kathy Twarty:

your popcorn, but better and prettier.

Cliff Duvernois:

So then for these different types of flavors,

Cliff Duvernois:

do you just buy the spices?

Cliff Duvernois:

and figure out what magical combination works?

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

yeah, and in fact, I make my own dill pickle like all by hand.

Kathy Twarty:

And so I have a recipe that he wants to keep in a lockbox.

Cliff Duvernois:

I won't ask you to betray any recipes or anything like that.

Kathy Twarty:

No, and I've actually, that's I've had people who wanna work

Kathy Twarty:

for me so that they can learn my recipes and I'm like, no, it's not that easy.

Steve Twarty:

Even your sister.

Kathy Twarty:

Even my sister.

Kathy Twarty:

No, sorry.

Kathy Twarty:

Yep.

Kathy Twarty:

Yep.

Cliff Duvernois:

so now you come in here and you do the popcorn.

Cliff Duvernois:

Obviously it is a success because how long have you been doing this now?

Kathy Twarty:

Oh, this is our eighth summer and right.

Kathy Twarty:

Eight?

Kathy Twarty:

Or is it seventh?

Kathy Twarty:

Okay.

Kathy Twarty:

So seventh summer.

Kathy Twarty:

And I've developed such a following that people will drive for.

Kathy Twarty:

last weekend I had a group of three girls.

Kathy Twarty:

They come up three times a year from Traverse city.

Kathy Twarty:

When they get here, they put in their special orders with me, and then between

Kathy Twarty:

the two days that they're here, the three girls probably buy 24 bags of popcorn.

Kathy Twarty:

That

Cliff Duvernois:

That is

Cliff Duvernois:

incredible.

Steve Twarty:

and the great thing about popcorn is the way that, that she makes it

Steve Twarty:

and packages it, it lasts for a long time.

Steve Twarty:

Like last year we did an experiment.

Steve Twarty:

We just kept a bag at our house and we didn't open it until,

Steve Twarty:

so she popped it in October.

Steve Twarty:

We opened it in, I think March.

Steve Twarty:

And it was still good.

Steve Twarty:

The flavor was there.

Steve Twarty:

it was a little bit softer.

Steve Twarty:

chewy, yeah.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Steve Twarty:

Than it normally is.

Steve Twarty:

but it was very good.

Kathy Twarty:

And a

Cliff Duvernois:

because that

Kathy Twarty:

has to do with the oil.

Cliff Duvernois:

oh,

Cliff Duvernois:

okay.

Cliff Duvernois:

cause that was gonna be my question is, 'cause it's like for me,

Cliff Duvernois:

popcorn has a very small window.

Cliff Duvernois:

' cause I can't go back and eat popcorn the next day.

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

And so that's the oil, the coconut oil does a really good job of penetrating the

Kathy Twarty:

whole kernel and it keeps it crispy still.

Kathy Twarty:

So it doesn't make it soggy, but it keeps all of that flavor intact

Kathy Twarty:

and that crunchiness intact.

Kathy Twarty:

So when you pick up the bags, they feel hard as a rock.

Kathy Twarty:

We sometimes we call ' 'em little bricks.

Cliff Duvernois:

Okay.

Kathy Twarty:

Okay.

Kathy Twarty:

Be because the oil just really clings to the corn nicely.

Steve Twarty:

Nice.

Steve Twarty:

Well, and the, and the farmer that we get the corn from is very, He wants his

Steve Twarty:

products to be top of the line and so he takes many extra steps to wash, to

Steve Twarty:

make sure that every kernel is washed.

Steve Twarty:

Because if they've got dust on them from the stalks It, they don't pop they point.

Steve Twarty:

And that's why when you buy, cheap popcorn and pop it, there'll

Steve Twarty:

be 25 kernels at the bottom.

Steve Twarty:

Of the, I did not know that.

Steve Twarty:

The pan.

Steve Twarty:

And that's why, so when she pops it, there might be one and the popcorn

Steve Twarty:

is I don't know, it just explodes and it's really crisp and it's really white

Cliff Duvernois:

Now.

Cliff Duvernois:

How did you go about finding.

Cliff Duvernois:

I know ' cause I know you said you go all the way down to

Cliff Duvernois:

Ann arbor, which is the other side of the state.

Cliff Duvernois:

How did you go about finding this farmer?

Kathy Twarty:

We had been working with him from the health food store

Kathy Twarty:

because the health food store, you need to bring in higher quality products.

Kathy Twarty:

So we've already been carrying his non G M O corn.

Kathy Twarty:

And so then we started buying it in bigger bulk.

Kathy Twarty:

yeah.

Steve Twarty:

Well, and he actually, the original connection was they had

Steve Twarty:

a house on Sugar Island, which is, right next door to Sault Ste Marie.

Steve Twarty:

yeah.

Steve Twarty:

So we knew them.

Steve Twarty:

Right.

Steve Twarty:

You know very well.

Steve Twarty:

And we still do.

Steve Twarty:

I enjoy going down to their farm.

Steve Twarty:

Their farm is absolutely beautiful.

Cliff Duvernois:

What are some of the, like the, most popular flavors

Kathy Twarty:

Good question.

Kathy Twarty:

So Himalayan sea salt, of course is really one of the top flavors I would

Kathy Twarty:

say that.

Kathy Twarty:

And then it goes down the line, lime sea salt's really popular.

Kathy Twarty:

And then so is Dill pickle, and then truffle parmesan.

Kathy Twarty:

Oh, you can't we can par parm raw.

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

And we use, that's

Kathy Twarty:

my love language right there.

Kathy Twarty:

Oh,

Kathy Twarty:

right.

Cliff Duvernois:

Oh, right.

Cliff Duvernois:

I

Cliff Duvernois:

love truffles.

Kathy Twarty:

And we use our own truffle oil that we get from Italy.

Kathy Twarty:

And then I don't use Parmesan cheese because I like

Kathy Twarty:

Pecorino Romano even better.

Kathy Twarty:

And then that's dairy free because it's sheep,

Cliff Duvernois:

right?

Kathy Twarty:

people who may have a dairy allergy can have the truffle Parmesan

Kathy Twarty:

and not have to worry about an allergic

Cliff Duvernois:

there's a lot of thought that's gone into this.

Cliff Duvernois:

That's a lot of thought.

Cliff Duvernois:

I wouldn't even think about that.

Cliff Duvernois:

For our audience, we're gonna take a quick break and thank our sponsors.

Cliff Duvernois:

When we come back, we're gonna talk a lot more about oil and vinegar.

Kathy Twarty:

great.

Kathy Twarty:

Sounds good.

Kathy Twarty:

Yes.

Cliff Duvernois:

We'll see you after the break.

Cliff Duvernois:

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Cliff Duvernois:

Hello everyone and welcome back to Total Michigan.

Cliff Duvernois:

I'm your host Cliff DuVernois.

Cliff Duvernois:

Today I'm sitting with Kathy and Steve Twarty of Cultured Pop.

Cliff Duvernois:

And before the break we were talking about, the ridiculous

Cliff Duvernois:

amount of delicious popcorn that you've got how you make it here.

Cliff Duvernois:

Secret recipe.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

Which we will not disclose.

Cliff Duvernois:

But you also mentioned too, steve, about the oil and the

Cliff Duvernois:

vinegar that you guys carry here.

Cliff Duvernois:

So I know you said before that it was about finding, what

Cliff Duvernois:

isn't here and then bringing it.

Cliff Duvernois:

But I got, I still gotta ask the question, why the olive oil, yes it's

Cliff Duvernois:

missing, but I can imagine there's a lot of things that are missing.

Cliff Duvernois:

So what made you focus in on oil and vinegar?

Steve Twarty:

I we're foodies.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah, we love, there you go.

Steve Twarty:

We love to cook.

Steve Twarty:

she loves to cook.

Steve Twarty:

I love to eat.

Steve Twarty:

And we have, and through our travels, we've come across a couple of little

Steve Twarty:

local shops in, in other states and that's what they were, was an oil and vinegar.

Steve Twarty:

And they had all these really cool infusions and we always bought

Steve Twarty:

some, And we thought that would be something that would be really

Steve Twarty:

fun that we would want to do.

Steve Twarty:

And so when the opportunity came, we just said, okay, let's do it.

Steve Twarty:

And, it's been a lot of fun.

Steve Twarty:

It's one of, along with cultured pop, it's one of the most fun

Steve Twarty:

things that we do, 'cause We get to meet people from around the

Steve Twarty:

state.

Steve Twarty:

we're moving all of our infusions at least everything that we can to Michigan

Steve Twarty:

grown, ingredients, like the cherries And peaches and, lavender and stuff like that.

Steve Twarty:

yeah, it's just been a lot of fun.

Cliff Duvernois:

So there's a cherry infused olive oil?

Kathy Twarty:

No, a cherry infused, balsamic vinegar.

Kathy Twarty:

Oh, okay.

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

And we use Michigan montmorency tart cherries.

Kathy Twarty:

And when we started working on that line, we just wanted to call

Kathy Twarty:

it MI cherry as in mi cherry.

Kathy Twarty:

But we wanted permission from the montmorency Cherry people

Kathy Twarty:

to be able to use their logo.

Kathy Twarty:

And steve reached out and sent them a bottle of the vinegar and

Kathy Twarty:

they gave us approval to use the montmorency so, which is very cool.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah, they were very excited about,' cause the Michigan

Steve Twarty:

cherry, industry has had a really tough time over the last five to 10

Steve Twarty:

years with infusion of lesser quality cherries from, around the world.

Steve Twarty:

So they're excited about anything that promotes Michigan grown cherries.

Cliff Duvernois:

And let's explore that.

Cliff Duvernois:

'cause you, made a comment before about how you're trying to bring your infusions

Cliff Duvernois:

all within the state of Michigan.

Cliff Duvernois:

Why is that so important?

Kathy Twarty:

really, I always like to say that Michigan could be its own country.

Kathy Twarty:

Because we really have almost all of the agriculture here that we

Kathy Twarty:

would need to sustain ourselves.

Kathy Twarty:

And why would you wanna leave Michigan?

Kathy Twarty:

We can get all of our meat products here grown.

Kathy Twarty:

There's a few obviously, tropical fruits that you can't get in Michigan, but

Kathy Twarty:

somebody could probably figure that out.

Kathy Twarty:

I would need an avocado.

Kathy Twarty:

but there's so much amazing agriculture here.

Kathy Twarty:

We just wanna be able to use that and highlight and help out other farmers.

Kathy Twarty:

Like right now we're working with a lavender farm out of wolverine and we

Kathy Twarty:

take their lavender and I came up with a recipe to infuse oil and vinegar.

Kathy Twarty:

Making a really unique product.

Kathy Twarty:

Like we're one of the only people in the country making blackberry,

Kathy Twarty:

lavender infused balsamic vinegar.

Kathy Twarty:

And I have to, I do pat myself on the back all the time

Kathy Twarty:

'cause he said, what are you gonna do for a recipe?

Kathy Twarty:

I said, I'll just figure it out.

Kathy Twarty:

Just like I did the popcorn and she can't keep it in stock.

Kathy Twarty:

So we have recently moved to a hundred gallon.

Kathy Twarty:

hundred liter, not a hundred gallon, a hundred liter infusion tanks in order

Kathy Twarty:

to keep up with the demand that she has.

Kathy Twarty:

And she's a go-getter.

Kathy Twarty:

The McCormick's she has reached out to.

Kathy Twarty:

We're in a store in Manhattan, we're in Philadelphia.

Kathy Twarty:

We're selling to California all over the country.

Cliff Duvernois:

That is incredible.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Steve Twarty:

So the name of the farm, it's mcc McCormick Farms In Wolverine.

Steve Twarty:

And they've been wonderful to work with.

Steve Twarty:

They reached out and asked if we could do this, and we're like, we think so.

Kathy Twarty:

But they got our names.

Kathy Twarty:

So you should talk about the relationships

Cliff Duvernois:

Yeah, let's explore that.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Steve Twarty:

So I, one of the things that we enjoy doing is, like for Cultured

Steve Twarty:

Pop, for example, everything in here is made in Michigan.

Steve Twarty:

It's grown here, or it's produced here.

Steve Twarty:

And we like to go and meet all of the people that we get these products from.

Steve Twarty:

So we really don't work with distributors.

Steve Twarty:

We don't just call someone up and go, can you ship me this?

Steve Twarty:

so in, in April every year we take a three day sojourn around the state.

Steve Twarty:

And just stop at all these places and say hi to everybody and pick up our

Steve Twarty:

orders for the summer Yeah, Yeah, and so, it's amazing how those relationships

Steve Twarty:

just keep at, they just keep leading to new relationships, So we had a

Steve Twarty:

customer for the oil and vinegar.

Steve Twarty:

They're in Manistee.

Steve Twarty:

It's the Northern Spice Company.

Steve Twarty:

Okay.

Steve Twarty:

And they picked up, I don't know, 10 or 12 of our flavors.

Steve Twarty:

and they've been doing really well with them there.

Steve Twarty:

And, Don and Matt McCormick also work with them, and Don said to.

Steve Twarty:

to them like, do you know anybody that could infuse vinegar and oil for us?

Steve Twarty:

And she goes, actually I do.

Steve Twarty:

And so I just got this call one day out of the blue and from Don McCormick and

Steve Twarty:

she told me about what they do and we just went from there and now we're talking

Steve Twarty:

about branching out into some new product lines And we're really having to expand.

Steve Twarty:

When we started the oil and vinegar, we were, we were using, I know you

Steve Twarty:

can't see it, but those little tiny little tank, those little stainless

Steve Twarty:

steel tanks to infuse, And now they're, four feet high by three feet wide.

Steve Twarty:

And we're even looking at expanding from there, so it keeps us busy for sure.

Cliff Duvernois:

it's interesting you that you say that you take the time

Cliff Duvernois:

to go around and visit, because I think it says something when you can

Cliff Duvernois:

go out and meet people face to face.

Cliff Duvernois:

But not only just meet them, but continue to build that

Cliff Duvernois:

relationship face to face versus just everything being on phone call.

Cliff Duvernois:

'cause like you said, you were in corporate America,

Cliff Duvernois:

you can have relationships with people over the phone.

Cliff Duvernois:

Never meet ' em face to face.

Cliff Duvernois:

Absolutely.

Cliff Duvernois:

you've talked to them for decades,

Cliff Duvernois:

you

Kathy Twarty:

right

Cliff Duvernois:

and you know where they're going to college and

Cliff Duvernois:

everything else and never meet ' em.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yep.

Cliff Duvernois:

So that right there is something that's really special.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah,

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah, it's really great because then it makes it easier

Kathy Twarty:

to sell their products as well.

Kathy Twarty:

So one of the products, I haven't gotten it yet this summer, 'cause we

Kathy Twarty:

have to drive to his house in Lapeer, but if you've never had Ned's Pretzels,

Kathy Twarty:

Ned's pretzels are phenomenal and he doesn't work with a distributor.

Kathy Twarty:

So i, we literally drive to his little bakery, his sister answers the door

Kathy Twarty:

and gives us our order, and then he donates money to the local Lapeer

Kathy Twarty:

system, to the Y M C A for anti-bullying.

Kathy Twarty:

Anti-racism programs.

Kathy Twarty:

And so if I have those products sitting on

Kathy Twarty:

the shelf and somebody says, wow, $5 and 69 cents for a little bag of pretzels,

Kathy Twarty:

I'm like, Hey, but guess what Ned does?

Kathy Twarty:

And this is how he works with his local community and this

Kathy Twarty:

is how we get the product.

Kathy Twarty:

Which is such, it's creates such a unique relationship.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yes.

Kathy Twarty:

It's, it's, it.

Steve Twarty:

so everything in here, we're selling products that our friends make.

Steve Twarty:

And when a customer comes in and says, this is really expensive,

Steve Twarty:

or what is this, we can tell them more than they ever wanted to know.

Cliff Duvernois:

Right?

Kathy Twarty:

that

Steve Twarty:

product.

Steve Twarty:

where it comes from.

Cliff Duvernois:

It's not

Cliff Duvernois:

came from

Cliff Duvernois:

another

Cliff Duvernois:

country or something.

Steve Twarty:

No.

Cliff Duvernois:

no, this is made by Bob who lives outside of Holland or

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Steve Twarty:

And that's what we like to do.

Steve Twarty:

that's what we, we're small business owners, so we want to support and

Steve Twarty:

help other small business owners.

Cliff Duvernois:

Let's talk about the relationship in

Cliff Duvernois:

the community of Sault Ste.

Cliff Duvernois:

Marie.

Cliff Duvernois:

' cause like you said, you've got four other, you've got four

Cliff Duvernois:

businesses total that you're doing.

Cliff Duvernois:

Talk to us about the relationships with the people in the area and

Cliff Duvernois:

how you're working with others and they're working with you.

Kathy Twarty:

it started out really when we got here.

Kathy Twarty:

We came from corporate America, like you said, and we didn't really know what it

Kathy Twarty:

understood to stimulate a local economy.

Kathy Twarty:

A lot of times when we would pull into a

Kathy Twarty:

town to visit, I was looking for the big chains.

Kathy Twarty:

I was looking for if there was no, and I'm not gonna say any names, but if

Kathy Twarty:

there was no big restaurant or no big store to shop at, I got very nervous.

Kathy Twarty:

And so that, I think a lot of people have that mindset.

Kathy Twarty:

So when we moved here, we were like, hey, if we only shop at Parker's

Kathy Twarty:

Hardware and we never go to the big box stores like we know the Parker's.

Kathy Twarty:

And we're helping put food on their family's table.

Kathy Twarty:

We started out with let's stimulate a local economy.

Kathy Twarty:

And then we started getting involved in our local government and we probably maybe

Kathy Twarty:

did a little bit too much in that area

Cliff Duvernois:

maybe.

Kathy Twarty:

And we have since pulled back, but now, like

Kathy Twarty:

I'm the board chair for our Tri-County community Action Agency.

Kathy Twarty:

Nice.

Kathy Twarty:

Very passionate about Meals on Wheels, very passionate about helping senior

Kathy Twarty:

citizens in early childhood development and all the other programs that we do.

Kathy Twarty:

So we stay involved in a lot of that stuff because it's gonna help

Kathy Twarty:

just our friends and our families.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah, we volunteer, a lot, and we do work with, so even at the health

Steve Twarty:

food store, a lot of our product, like our Honey is local, our maple syrup is local.

Steve Twarty:

our coffee is local.

Steve Twarty:

All, yeah.

Steve Twarty:

All of our meat and fish and chicken all comes from michigan Farms.

Steve Twarty:

We just, anytime we're looking to bring something new into any one of

Steve Twarty:

our stores, the first thing we do is try to find someone who's producing

Steve Twarty:

it in Michigan and doing it well.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Steve Twarty:

nine times outta 10 if it's made or grown or produced by.

Steve Twarty:

Someone like you or me, the quality is just gonna be better.

Steve Twarty:

But I like to eat and so we have food stores and so we

Steve Twarty:

try everything that we like.

Steve Twarty:

I've eaten everything that we sell, and if we don't like it, we don't sell it.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

Ooh, I like that.

Cliff Duvernois:

I like that.

Cliff Duvernois:

So then you've made a really good tasting then of all the oils and the vinegars and

Cliff Duvernois:

everything else that have come through.

Kathy Twarty:

Oh

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah,

Kathy Twarty:

And we can talk about it.

Kathy Twarty:

And the names are really fun.

Kathy Twarty:

so when we first started, we started with the local artist.

Kathy Twarty:

She's the one who made our logo for us, and it's an olive oil bottle splashing

Kathy Twarty:

out oil into the shape of Lake superior.

Kathy Twarty:

Nice.

Kathy Twarty:

So if you look at the logo, which is really neat, and we paid her quite a

Kathy Twarty:

bit of money for the hand-drawn logo.

Kathy Twarty:

And then we started naming them after different ships.

Kathy Twarty:

So one of our.

Kathy Twarty:

My claim to fame, he's got the Ed edmund fig gerald, and it's a fig balsamic.

Kathy Twarty:

And then mine is the got garlic after the Edwin h got, and it's

Kathy Twarty:

not unusual for the Edwin h.

Kathy Twarty:

Got to have the, got garlic on the ship.

Kathy Twarty:

And the people who own Interlake, they have a, like a house, a

Kathy Twarty:

corporate house not too far from here.

Kathy Twarty:

They come in every summer and they buy all the inner lake ships like the

Kathy Twarty:

barker basil, the trigger, the truffle.

Kathy Twarty:

Got garlic and they keep ' em in their corporate house so that when

Kathy Twarty:

their people from their company come to visit, they know that they're

Kathy Twarty:

getting a locally produced product.

Cliff Duvernois:

Nice.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Steve Twarty:

And we've created an environment where we can.

Steve Twarty:

so we do a few, private label, scenarios.

Steve Twarty:

So there's a store, in Presque Isle and, they have about 10 of our

Steve Twarty:

flavors, but rather than just buying our labels that, talk about ships

Steve Twarty:

and other things that are up based.

Steve Twarty:

They were like, we would like to highlight the history of our community.

Steve Twarty:

And so we created 10 new labels for them with unique names about people

Steve Twarty:

and places in their community.

Steve Twarty:

And we bottle it for 'em and package it and bring it down to 'em, and so it, it

Steve Twarty:

helps us A learn more about what, you know, all different places in Michigan.

Steve Twarty:

But it also provides, a just a really unique product and I, we'd like to

Steve Twarty:

grow that business into where, maybe it's more than just Michigan even,

Steve Twarty:

'cause we can, we've got some really good people that, with design and

Steve Twarty:

creation of the labels and stuff to where we can market to anyone

Cliff Duvernois:

certainly.

Cliff Duvernois:

really.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

Awesome.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Cliff Duvernois:

For your, olive oil, and vinegar.

Cliff Duvernois:

what are some of the, popular ones?

Kathy Twarty:

probably for the olive oils, we have a Tuscan blend

Kathy Twarty:

that is typical garlic, basil, rosemary, sage, very well balanced.

Kathy Twarty:

Not one of them is more powerful than the other one.

Kathy Twarty:

So anything from like

Kathy Twarty:

pasta frying and egg to dipping bread.

Kathy Twarty:

So good.

Kathy Twarty:

So good.

Kathy Twarty:

That's word language right

Kathy Twarty:

I know.

Kathy Twarty:

Dipping bread a good olive oil.

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah, me too.

Kathy Twarty:

And then the two right after that are gonna be the garlic and the truffle.

Kathy Twarty:

Like when we fell in love with truffle, I cannot make a flatbread

Kathy Twarty:

or a pizza without drizzling.

Kathy Twarty:

Just a little bit of that truffle on the crust because it just, it

Kathy Twarty:

makes the flavors so much better.

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah, right

Kathy Twarty:

out there too.

Kathy Twarty:

Ails pretty popular too.

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

And then for vinegars, our Michigan ones are really taking off, so

Kathy Twarty:

we have the Michigan cherry, the Michigan Maple Syrup, which is like

Kathy Twarty:

putting candy on your salad.

Kathy Twarty:

It really is.

Kathy Twarty:

Then

Steve Twarty:

It's really good on fish

Kathy Twarty:

Oh, yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

Or pork or chicken or even like savory pancakes, which people,

Kathy Twarty:

a lot of times they don't think about sweet food being savory.

Kathy Twarty:

And so I'm like, make a savory pancake, make like a bacon and cheddar pancake.

Kathy Twarty:

It doesn't mean like the pancake is your, it's your vessel to bring in flavor.

Kathy Twarty:

That's the, just the carte blanche, but then you put that maple syrup on there.

Kathy Twarty:

Maple syrup vinegar on a bacon and cheddar pancake.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Steve Twarty:

Or Even I'm hungry.

Steve Twarty:

One of the, it's official, one of the strangest things that, that

Steve Twarty:

people can't get is, ice cream.

Steve Twarty:

so like when people are asking me like, what do you do with this vinegar?

Steve Twarty:

I'm like, that particular one, which we have an aged one.

Steve Twarty:

And so it's, in the aging process.

Steve Twarty:

it becomes more, thicker and almost like a glaze.

Steve Twarty:

And what I like to take vanilla bean ice cream and drizzle some of

Steve Twarty:

that aged balsamic on top of it.

Steve Twarty:

It's wicked good.

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

Fresh strawberries or grilled fruit.

Kathy Twarty:

Grilled fruit is another like thing that people are getting

Kathy Twarty:

into with their traeger grills.

Kathy Twarty:

All that stuff.

Kathy Twarty:

And so you drizzle a little bit of balsamic vinegar on that grilled

Kathy Twarty:

fruit and it offsets like that.

Kathy Twarty:

Char and sweetness at the same time.

Cliff Duvernois:

Because man, when you, cook fruit, whether it's bake it or grill

Kathy Twarty:

yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

sweetness

Cliff Duvernois:

The, yeah, the sweetness and it's like almost like the flavor

Kathy Twarty:

so well.

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah.

Kathy Twarty:

So it's all

Cliff Duvernois:

rather than just eating a raw strawberry, so yes.

Kathy Twarty:

Yeah, So we talk about food.

Kathy Twarty:

All the employees are always hungry by the end

Kathy Twarty:

of their shift.

Kathy Twarty:

They're all like, I need to go home and eat.

Cliff Duvernois:

Wonderful.

Cliff Duvernois:

so if somebody's listening to this and they want to check out what it is

Cliff Duvernois:

you guys are doing, come in here and try some of your popcorn, olive oil,

Cliff Duvernois:

whatever it is, your Michigan products, what's the best way for them to do that.

Kathy Twarty:

we are located at 3 41 A west portage street.

Kathy Twarty:

That's the best way to find us.

Kathy Twarty:

You can also find us on, Facebook under Cultured Pop Sault St.

Kathy Twarty:

Marie, spelled like the railway, not s T e ss a i n t E.

Kathy Twarty:

and we do check that fairly occasionally.

Kathy Twarty:

I have a couple of other administrators who check that Facebook page as well.

Kathy Twarty:

We will answer any question.

Kathy Twarty:

We ship popcorn all over the country.

Kathy Twarty:

We ship the oil and vinegar all over the country.

Kathy Twarty:

I have one couple who come up here from Florida and they stay

Kathy Twarty:

in AU for the summer, but Perry walks in here every summer and

Kathy Twarty:

he's I'm just putting in my order.

Kathy Twarty:

And he takes a case of vinegar back to Florida with him and they

Kathy Twarty:

barely make it through the winter.

Steve Twarty:

Yeah.

Steve Twarty:

like we're old school.

Steve Twarty:

we don't do a lot of, social media and websites.

Steve Twarty:

And we, people say to me all the time, you should put this oil

Steve Twarty:

and vinegar on, on a website.

Steve Twarty:

You could sell, tons of it.

Steve Twarty:

And my response is always yes, we could, but there's only 24 hours in the day.

Steve Twarty:

And we like the brick and mortar, we like meeting people and we

Steve Twarty:

like having that interaction.

Steve Twarty:

And so we don't wanna, we don't wanna start selling online and

Steve Twarty:

then all of a sudden that becomes what we do, 'cause it would just

Steve Twarty:

take away from what we want to do.

Cliff Duvernois:

Kathy, Steve, thank you so much for taking

Cliff Duvernois:

time to chat with us today.

Cliff Duvernois:

Really appreciate it.

Kathy Twarty:

thank you so much for coming to the Sault.

Kathy Twarty:

We're so happy you're here.

Cliff Duvernois:

I'm happy to be here as well.

Cliff Duvernois:

great yeah, it's nice meeting you.

Cliff Duvernois:

And for our audience, you can always click on over to total michigan.com and

Cliff Duvernois:

click on kathy and steve's interview to get all that yummy information

Cliff Duvernois:

that they just mentioned above.

Cliff Duvernois:

We will see you next week with another story of an ordinary Michigander doing

Cliff Duvernois:

some pretty extraordinary things.

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