Lakeland siblings Darnell, 15; Joshua, 13; Donnie, 6; and Judah, 1, are the inspiration for Four Brothers Popcorn Co. | Courtesy of Jeanette Pierce

A cottage popcorn business has popped up in Lakeland and it’s attracting a lot of attention in local foodie groups on Facebook. 

Four Brothers Popcorn Co. is a family business with — you guessed it — four brothers. The young entrepreneurs and their mom offer “gourmet candied popcorn with a touch of sweetness and sometimes a bit of savory,” according to their menu. They specialize in unexpected flavors such as pineapple, piña colada, strawberry, blueberry, passion fruit, buttery pecan, cinn-amazing, mango, peach, watermelon and banana, selling their creations for $3-$5 a bag.

“I started the business in hopes to leave the boys with something they could one day grow and pass along to their children,” said the boys’ mother, Jeanette Pierce. 

The namesake brothers are Darnell, 15, who plays basketball for George Jenkins High School; Joshua, 13; Donnie, 6; and Judah, who is one year old.

Pierce said the family moved to Lakeland eight years ago from Palm Beach, where she and the two eldest were born.  “It was time for a change in scenery,” she said. 

They started the business in April and have run it out of their home. The idea came from Donnie, her 6-year-old. 

“Believe it or not, he loves popcorn and fruit. He asked me what if (we) made strawberry popcorn. We talked about how good it would be and we decided to test it out,” Pierce said. 

The business started with three flavors and has now increased to a dozen regular flavor offerings, with occasional special orders. Pierce said they sometimes make custom flavors such as blue pineapple to fit a party’s theme.  

Their largest order has been 66 bags for a family reunion in Texas. Pierce wouldn’t go into much detail about their recipe but said the secret is using “a process of popping, cooking, and baking to get to the right texture and flavor.”  She uses “a little popcorn, a little butter, sugar and a whole lot of love.” 

“The response from the community has been beautiful. There’s so much support.  The kids and I are very grateful!” Pierce said. 

Pierce said they pop popcorn almost every day, depending on customers’ needs. She has a flexible schedule as a stay-at-home mom. The children’s father works as a truck driver. She markets the business heavily on social media, especially in the Cottage Food Sales & Reviews Polk Co. group.

Sometimes they deliver or ship orders, but typically people message their Facebook, Instagram, or Tik Tok pages and then pick up the orders from their home. 

“The kids are very involved. Of course, I handle the hot stuff. The oldest handles printing labels and keeping up with inventory. Donnie labels the bags and keeps count of what we have in stock. Joshua bags the popcorn and double seals the bags. The baby looks cute for the camera and occasionally hands out a bag or two,” Pierce explained. 

The family will be participating in a few upcoming events including The Kids Creative Market, on Saturday at the Lake Wales Art Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Updike Hall, and the Back to School Event at Florida Technical College in Lakeland on July 29 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. In the past, they’ve sold their popcorn at the Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market.  

Pierce hopes the business teaches the children to become “financially independent and responsible individuals who can make informed decisions about money.” She plans to use the profits to help pay for extracurricular activities and ultimately their college tuition. 

“We’re thinking long-term with this business.  I’m talking (about) passing on the family business and its values to the next generation, ensuring its continuity and creating a legacy,” Pierce said. “The ultimate goal would be to make Four Brothers Popcorn Co. a household name!”

Pierce called the entrepreneurship journey smooth so far and said the biggest challenge they’ve faced is running out of bags when they received a big order. She plans to release an e-book soon about the importance of teaching children to be entrepreneurs. 

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Stephanie Claytor has been a broadcast and digital journalist in Lakeland since 2016, covering Polk County for Bay News 9 and currently free-lancing for LkldNow. She is an author of travel and children's books.

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