Our Story

Popcorn Asylum is the brainchild of partners Ben-Zion, Tim Zion and Justin Platt. While working as a law clerk prosecuting misdemeanor charges for the city of Chicago Ben began to bring caramel popcorn into court to feed his fellow court personnel. Eventually, the demand exceeded the expense capabilities of the lowly city clerk, so he began to sell the product at cost to his friends around the courthouse and office.

Ben found himself spending more and more time making popcorn and enjoying it. Enjoying work was a foreign concept to Ben. He bought a food dehydrator, multiple poppers and generally cluttered his home as if he were already operating a business. Eventually, it became clear this is what Ben should be doing for a living. He spoke to his brother Tim and longtime friend Justin and got them to throw their own expertise into the project. They developed a general motif, including outsider art (a Zion family staple) and a from-scratch philosophy for the food items in the store. Further down the line more friends joined the party, including designers Matthew Lee and Doug McClellan and business/construction/contract senseis Peter Rubin, Corey Rubin, and Joel Platt.

Years of practice and experimentation, some successful and some less so, an eclectic and expanding recipe book including the Zion family challah, and endless conversations with the city of Chicago, contractors, architects and service providers, and the Popcorn Asylum became a reality.