“I never thought Heart of Dixie would be a full-fledged, multi-product business like it is now, but I know the first rule of good salesmanship is never taking ‘no’ for an answer,” Darwin admitted, noting he always told customers he could get them what they needed.

“In the first couple years we grew popcorn, people would come up to me and ask if I sold bags, too. I didn’t, but I knew a good idea when I heard it. Bags followed suit, then other containers, and then we opened the store. The rest is history.”

Darwin said he couldn’t be prouder of the company, or his family’s involvement in its success. His son, son-in-law, granddaughter and grandson-in-law are his proverbial right hands with daily tasks.

“What we all do is a labor of love, and I think our customers appreciate that,” he said. “I’ve always loved a good sale, and my family shares that drive.”

New products are always popping up at Heart of Dixie. Today, the company offers cotton candy, nachos, snow cones, pretzels, funnel cakes, lemonade, ice cream and general concession supplies. The team also services and restores equipment.

Though its merchandise offering easily fills a 200-page catalog, Heart of Dixie’s first product remains its specialty.

 “Our family has always worked hard to consistently offer customers a high-quality, delicious product,” said Darwin’s son-in-law, Bentley Walls, who manages the farm alongside Darwin’s son, Bart.

“They like knowing where their food originates, and we like being a part of their family in some way. It’s all about the snacking experience.”

The Birmingham Zoo is among Dixie’s loyal customers. Selecting an Alabama company to purchase concessions from was a no-brainer, said Jason Mohr of Southern Food Services, whose company contracts food purchases for the zoo’s Safari Café.

“When we selected a supplier a few years back, choosing a local company was convenient, and it was just the right thing to do,” said Mohr. “Heart of Dixie is a great company to work with — incredibly friendly and always willing to help in a bind.”

Businesses and larger concession-based operations like the Birmingham Zoo are typical customers of Heart of Dixie, but Customer Relations Manager Haley Walls Nicolaou, 25, said orders of all sizes are welcome. 

“Orders range from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars, and customers are everywhere from Alabama to Washington and even into Scotland. Whatever the size and wherever they originate, we are happy to fill any request,” she said.

“We love our customers, big and small.”

Heart of Dixie Popcorn and Supply, located at 191 Darwin Road in Huntsville, is open weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To order products, request a catalog or learn more, visit HeartOfDixiePopcorn.com or call (256) 828-3270.