Uncle Bob’s Ontario Popping Corn
Descended from early United Empire Loyalists settlers in the area, Blair Townsend is a third generation Norfolk County tobacco farmer. In 1985 during a market downturn, his father and three associates, all tobacco growers, were looking for a way to combine forces and diversify. After considerable market research, they decided to plant popping corn. The variety decided upon was white-hull-less, a “finicky” crop because of its weak stock and specific drying requirements. It also rots quickly in the presence of too much moisture. However they were convinced the sandy Norfolk soil, with its excellent drainage, would provide close to ideal conditions for success, and they were right.
When Blair and Livia bought the company and took over in 1988, they were still growing tobacco on their farm, with popping corn only providing secondary income. Slowly but surely, with effort and increased marketing savvy, popping corn over took the tobacco until, in 2007, they made the decision to make it their main business. Because of growing demand, ten to 15 percent of their popping corn crop in now organic. From the initial single type, the selection has grown to eight different varieties of popping corn, and Blair and Livia ship it all over.Although they sell some to large snack ford companies who market it under their own labels, much of their product goes into bags labelled ‘Uncle Bob’s Popcorn’, a name with 26 years of history attached. It was named after Blair’s late father, who was known to every one as Uncle Bob.