Eat This

Debra Moore Needed a Way to Pay for Her Son's Tuition When Up Popped an Idea

Debra Moore, owner of Mama Moore’s Gourmet Popcorn, opened a new Grand Prairie shop Mother's Day weekend.
Debra Moore, owner of Mama Moore’s Gourmet Popcorn, opened a new Grand Prairie shop Mother's Day weekend. Dalila Thomas
What would you do for your kids? For most people, the answer is pretty simple: anything. That’s just what Debra Moore did to get her youngest son, Caleb, through college. Her anything, however, was starting a mobile popcorn concession company — Mama Moore’s Gourmet Popcorn — in 2012.

“My husband and I were looking for a way to pay for our son’s college fees,” Moore says. “When I was presented with the idea, I saw that all we needed was a tent, a kettle, a couple of serving tables, and you were set. So [I] asked my husband if this is something we should pursue. He said yes, not knowing that I had already booked an event."

Moore quickly went from doing events every other weekend to becoming the premier popcorn vendor at Texas Motor Speedway to opening a store in Grand Prairie on Mother’s Day weekend. From the beginning, she says, the concept of family has always been the focal point of her brand.

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“It’s funny, I don’t think people realize what you can really do with popcorn," Moore says.
courtesy Cassidy Spruiell
“I feel like I’m a mama to a lot of different kids,” Moore says. “I treat them like my own. I feel like I have that relationship with people, and it translates into having that relationship with customers. I want to make sure my customers are completely and totally satisfied."

And a full customer is a satisfied customer. The aesthetic of Mamma Moore’s is somewhat similar to what you’d see in a mall popcorn shop (despite the open kitchen space where you can see and smell the popcorn being made), but don’t be fooled. Moore’s flavors are unmatched and well thought out.

“It’s funny, I don’t think people realize what you can really do with popcorn," she says. "One of the flavors I absolutely love, and what 90 percent people have come in for, is the lemon pound cake popcorn. You gotta have a base when it comes to popcorn, so I think about the base flavor. And then I think about what else makes a lemon pound cake. What flavors do I taste in a lemon pound cake? Then it’s trial and error. You test and you double-check and you try different things and you come up with something that you think is great.”

What’s also great is the support Moore is getting — not only from customers but from those who have been there through the struggle.

“Seeing my mom succeed is always something that I wanted,” her eldest son, Ashley Ndukwu, says. “My mom had me early. And we’re from a small country town where everybody is below the poverty line. Growing up, she put a lot of her efforts into raising me the best way she could. It stressed her out a lot. She had to miss a lot — my first steps, my first time speaking — because she had to work. This gives her a chance to be closer to family. I think others may see this and be inspired to do the same thing.”

Moore did meet her goal in paying for her youngest son to go to college. Her next objective: making sure Mama Moore’s stays poppin’.

Mama Moore’s Gourmet Popcorn, 5244 Highway 360, Grand Prairie
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Dalila Thomas
Contact: Dalila Thomas