Snap, crackle and popcorn


Entrepreneurs bring unique concept to Dinkytown

In the gutted space of an old laundromat, empty nesters Julie and Mark Marshall have opened a store with a select and unique product line: cereal and popcorn. If the menu sounds slim, however, don’t be fooled; Cereal World and the Minnesota Popcorn Connection, at 423 14th Ave. SE, offers a long list of goodies: 25 brands of cereal, 19 kinds of popcorn, Belgian waffles, organic oatmeal, yogurt parfaits and a load of yummy toppings to pile on.

Cereal World and the Minnesota Popcorn Connection is open Monday–Friday, 7 a.m–7 p.m.; Friday 7 a.m.–midnight; Saturday 8 a.m.–midnight; and Sunday 10 a.m–4 p.m.

Opened in the former Tub Laundromat space in May, Cereal World celebrated its grand opening Sept. 15, just as the tens of thousands of university students were returning to campus. The Marshalls hope to tempt their taste buds with sweet favorites like Froot Loops or appeal to their healthy sides with Christine and Rob’s Organic Oatmeal (a favorite of Arnold Schwarzenegger, we understand).

The popcorn selection pushes the envelope, with traditional flavors like cheese and caramel alongside fruit flavors, jalapeno and cinnamon.

The couple will be adding ice cream soon, as well.

Julie Marshall said folks are still getting used to the concept. “People still come in totally confused,” she said. She eagerly explains how the shop works to those who do stop in — there are three sizes of cereals, which can be mixed and matched (you can get your Kix and Trix together) and topped with anything from fresh berries or dried fruit to gummy bears or chocolate chips.

Put it on yogurt, and you’ve got a parfait. The Belgian waffles have been a favorite, said Marshall. The popcorn, which comes self-serve out of wall-mounted dispensers, is made with real butter and no preservatives.

The old laundromat made for a spacious shop, in which numerous tables sit beneath framed original advertisements of cereals from the past as well as from other countries. Free wireless internet is available for those who want to study, said Marshall.

On an October school day, about lunchtime, high school students Samantha Boland and Ashley Meszaros stopped in during their break from the U’s “College in the Schools” program.

“I think it’s really cool,” said Boland, who might attend the U of M next year. “It’s great for college students; I could come for breakfast next year.”

With her now-college aged children out of the house, Marshall said she and her husband put their experience with kids and newly found free time toward the business venture. “I was a hockey parent,” said Julie Marshall. “I was always carrying around cereal and popcorn. It came out of that.”

She’s still feeding young athletes; Cereal World recently donated a 10-pound bag of popcorn to the DeLaSalle High School basketball team for an all-night tournament.