Spill it: Dave Hestir, Gold Nugget Popcorn owner

Friday, April 25, 2008 | 3:00 p.m. CDT; updated 12:58 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ninth Street will be filled with the aroma of kettle corn and hot dogs for the fourth year this season.

Dave Hestir, owner of The Gold Nugget Popcorn Co., sets up a cart in the area between the Blue Note and the Blue Fugue. He says he gets “the rockers, the hippies and the kids.”

So what’s the story behind your kettle corn?

I started in Anchorage, Alaska, while I was working, and I studied popcorn — how it’s grown, the industry, physics.

I studied the industry for the past 200 years and watched what was going on with the popcorn in America — who was successful, who were the has-beens and why they failed. I studied everything I could get my hands on, and it seemed to be almost a bomb-proof industry.

How did you end up in Columbia?

I was following my kids. I loaded up what I wanted, which was the popcorn popper, and came here to be with my children.

What’s your day job?

I work full-time as a paramedic for Randolph County. I also work full-time as the marketing director for Jimmy John’s. I run Gold Nugget, and I’m starting a telecommunications company.

Why so many jobs?

I work hard so my kids will have a dynasty when they’re ready. They helped start Gold Nugget in Alaska and to honor them, I restarted it here.

If you could sit down with anyone in the world, at any time in history, who would it be?

I would like to sit down with God and have a bowl of popcorn and say “I’m not sure why you made popcorn but, man, you must have been in a good mood.”

What should we know about popcorn?

Popcorn is the only corn that pops. It’s not field corn or sweet corn; they don’t pop.

When can people expect to be able to get a hot dog from you?

If you see us, we’re open. If you don’t, we’re not.

What do you like about selling hot dogs in Columbia?

People of all walks of life seem to enjoy us. So thank you.

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