It began in the late ‘70’s when newspapers were the hub of sharing information with you and your local community. Nancy’s grandmother, Gertrude, clipped a recipe for homemade buttery caramel corn from a small-town Wisconsin newspaper. That recipe was handed down and Bill, Nancy’s dad, would make the caramel corn to share with the family as a Christmas time tradition. Motivated by impatience at having to wait until Christmas for Grandpa to make caramel corn, our son Jack began making it himself. Even as his love of cooking took him into deeper culinary waters, he continued to make this family favorite and shared it with family and friends throughout middle school, high school, and even even modiﬁed it to work in his college dorm’s microwave.
During Jack’s ﬁnal Christmas break from college in 2014, he continued to cook up batch after batch of the delicious treat from home to ship to his friends around the country. It was then that Mark realized that there was something truly special about this caramel corn, and proposed we make it on a larger scale for a broader market. Research ensued, and on June 4th, 2015, Laughing Mountain Gourmet Popcorn opened its doors in historic downtown West Bend, Wisconsin.
Why Laughing Mountain? For years we’ve been told that our German last name, Laufenberg, translates to “laughing mountain”. Since our goal was to make people smile by providing superior quality products in a fun and cheerful environment, we thought the suggestion of a friend to call it Laughing Mountain was a perfect ﬁt.(Thanks, Justus!) Even though our marketing team informed us it technically translates to “running mountain” or “running hill”, we decided to keep it. Laughing Mountain is far more fun than say, Run for the Hills!
Each member of our family played a part in the birth of the operation, and while Mark and Nancy are the faces you see cooking caramel and tumbling popcorn with cheese in the shop, we are grateful for our children Jack, Justin, and Stephen for their work, along with friends Maddy, Simeon and Justus. And ﬁnally for Grandpa Bill, 83, for being the man in charge of product package labeling. It’s been a joy to be a part of this team effort. So now as we share our family’s tradition with you, we hope to help you create some of your own.
Mark and Nancy Laufenberg