Reporting Aristea Brady
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Six months ago, Minnesota lost one of its great female entrepreneurs to breast cancer, and her story hasn’t been told publicly until now.
Ronni Feuer’s concept of gourmet popcorn was first created in her Minnetonka kitchen alongside her daughter. You can now find their products on the shelves of more than 1,000 retailers worldwide.
October is breast cancer awareness month, so check out how Ronni’s family is paying tribute to the woman who started it all. And giving back the way she would’ve wanted.
The gourmet popcorn is over the top, and that’s exactly how they wanted it from day one.
“And we loaded it up with chocolate, and we both looked at each other and said, it needs more chocolate,” said Ronni’s daughter, Erica Kopilenko.
Gourmet popcorn like you’ve never seen it before was first crafted 12 years ago in Ronni’s Minnetonka kitchen.
“Funky Chunky was born because we broke it into chunks,” Erica said.
Now Funky Chunky is at your local grocer, markets across the country, and boutiques around the world. This mother/daughter power duo had no choice but to move from their 2,000-square-foot building to a 18-000-square-foot show room and factory that’s home to more than 100 Minnesotan chocolatiers who hand-craft that perfected luxury in food form, every day.
Formerly an abstract painter and sculptor, Ronni wanted the product to be beautiful and different.
“We put together unique and exciting ingredients that nobody would think of,” Erica said. “Like caramel and licorice with chocolate; potato chips.”
The painter, mother, entrepreneur and chocolatier was first diagnosed with cancer in 2006 in her left breast. Within a year, she was diagnosed in her right breast with a completely separate cancer.
In April of last year, her cancer spread, and she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, though this didn’t stop her.
“She’d have chemo and she’d come to work afterward,” Erica said.
Erica says her mom worked nearly every day up until the end. Ronni died in February.
Soon after, came popcorn with a purpose.
“For every purchase, 10 percent of sales will go to the Hope Chest for Breast Cancer Foundation, with 100 percent of every dollar raised going directly to women facing financial hardships while undergoing treatment,” Erica said.
Now, on that signature product that was first made in Ronni’s kitchen, there stands a pink bow, a touch of pink chocolate drizzle, and an added ingredient: hope.
Erica says her mom was not defined by her cancer, and with the opportunity for adequate treatment, other women don’t have to be either.
“What was most important to me was that women, all women, no matter what walk of life they are from, they could be comfortable during their treatment,” Erica said.