Business & Finance

Popcorn for the People: East Brunswick, Rutgers, and Cookies and Cream

Mayor Cohen joins Autism supporters to cut the ribbon at Popcorn for the People. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
Where the magic happens. Making caramel corn. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
Mayor Cohen, Steve Bier, and Will and Amy Schafer enjoy their common success in supporting a good business with a good cause. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
Dr. Moskowitz, Annie the Popcorn Guru, and Connor Shah of Rutgers celebrate achievement. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
A sincere moment of joy and hope at the ribbon cutting. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
Steve and Sam Bier, the faces of Autism at Work, Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
Sam Bier and Marty Moskowitz share the hope for a successful business. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Popcorn for the People, East Brunswick's local venture into "social entrepreneurship", officially opened yesterday at its new location on Hart's Lane.  True to the goals of "Autism at Work," the staff was in the midst of preparing dozens of bags of fresh treats to be sold at the first Rutgers University football game, making sure to have a sufficient number of bags of the "cookies and cream" flavor which has earned them local fame.  

Popcorn for the People, started by Dr. Steven Bier in 2015 at the original location at the Brunswick Square Mall, employs adults on the autism spectrum in a structured, supportive business environment.  The company has grown to become a supplier of popcorn gift tins to local businesses and a constant presence at local events and venues including East Brunswick Day, the Monmouth and Middlesex County Fairs, and Rutgers Athletics.  It's also easy to grab a bag or three weekly at the East Brunswick Transportation Center and the Woodbridge Mall.

Mayor Brad Cohen said of the growing venture, "It's not just the popcorn; it's the people.  The people who work here and the people whom they serve.  East Brunswick is proud to be the home of this great business."  Cohen joined supporters of Popcorn for the People at the opening in their production facility.  Will and Amy Schafer of Ashley HomeStore of Central New Jersey and Staten Island who helped with operational development and warehousing and donated racking in conjunction with their racking company Titan Rack & Shelving, LLC were also there to support the opening.

Sign Up for E-News

Dr. Martin Markowitz, Senior Associate Dean at the Rutgers Business School, was there to support the students who have become involved in Popcorn for the People through the Enactus program.  Markowitz sees his job as "brokering relationships" between business and the university.  Enactus, which is a program based on driving social entrepreneurship, is a growing focus at Rutgers and Moskowitz said that, "I knew that Popcorn for the People would be a good fit for our students."  "Social entrepreneurship," said Markowitz, "Focuses on businesses that perform a charitable function, provide employment, and turn a profit.  These businesses as not just fundraisers.  They are employers in the marketplace. We want to encourage people to build companies that make money and help people at the same time.  We are supporting sustainable businesses.

Markowitz noted that the Rutgers Enactus team is currently a finalist  in competition for the Hult prize, an international group that has pledged to help 10 million people by 2015.  Next month, Rutgers students will engage in the final competition for the million dollar prize held at the United Nations.  If they are successful, they will use the award to support refugees in the Middle East.

Right now, though, these students are helping to support a business that makes popcorn in East Brunswick, providing work, dignity, and pay for autistic adults. Rachel Cheng, a graduate student in the Rutgers Enactus group, has been hired by Popcorn for the People to be their first Chief Operating Officer.  She faces the challenge of moving the organization forward as a larger supplier.  Cheng was not available for comment, but her colleague Connor Shah of Edison, a major in supply-chain economics at the Rutgers Business School, said that he was "excited and happy" to be working at Popcorn for the People.

Rutgers University plays the University of Washington in football tomorrow night at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, and Popcorn for the People will be there.  Says Steve Bier, "We are moving on to a nationally-televised event and will be there for every game this season."  

The outreach of autism at work is moving off the spectrum as this local business grows and gains support.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

East Brunswick

Middlesex County Young Republicans Host "Road to Victory" Event at the Green Turtle

March 21, 2018

NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ -  Middlesex County Young Republican Chairman John Steiner would like to announce the Middlesex County Young Republicans "Road to Victory" Reception, which will take place on March 22 at the Green Turtle in North Brunswick from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM.

This event will serve as the official launch for the 2018 campaign season for the Middlesex ...

Upcoming Events

Fri, March 23, 8:00 PM

State Theatre New Jersey , New Brunswick

Motown the Musical

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, April 7, 2:00 PM

State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

Arts & Entertainment

East Brunswick Public Library Hosts “The Jews of Tsarist Russia and Bessarabia Before the Holocaust” Program

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) presents the fifth installment in the series “The Jews of Eastern Europe Before The Holocaust” on April 8 at 2:30 pm.

“The intent of the series is to bring to light the legacy of my Jewish ancestors, prior to their annihilation during the Shoah,” said Dr. Michael G. Kesler, ...

Need a Passport? Save Money by Getting It Before April 2

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ—If you are planning to get a new United States passport, you can save $10 by submitting your application at the East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) before Monday, April 2.

The cost of a passport’s execution fee is rising from $25 to $35. The fee increase is mandated by the Department of State for any passport application submitted to ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

Ian Hockley Visits New Jersey to Introduce Program to Empower Youth

This week I am taking a departure from book reviewing to share an important program that has been introduced to New Jersey this week by Mr. Ian Hockley, founder of the Dylan's Wings of Change Foundation. On December 14, 2012, Hockley's five year old son, an autistic child named Dylan, was gunned down in his classroom in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Dylan, a shy and adorable ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...