MESA — Looking to participate in the next viral food challenge? Mike Minnis, Owner of Pops Exotic in Mesa, is welcoming you to his store for all kinds of extremely spicy and sour fun!
"Business has been going crazy ever since I started my account on TikTok about a week before Christmas. I started doing little food challenges with customers."
You have known Pops Exotic as the EXCLUSIVE SNACK SUPERSTORE! Think of the junk food from your childhood that was discontinued or no longer sold in stores, like candy and soda that you wish you could snack on, but it is only sold overseas or that crazy box of sugary cereal that you saw on social media, but cannot find in stores. Pops Exotic in Mesa wants to find this junk food and bring it to Arizona, just for you!
Minnis opened his unique candy shop in 2018 but his store has recently gone viral because of the TikTok he created last winter.
"I first started posting about my own personal story. How I made the transition from being in trouble to being a business owner. Then I started posting business tips, which really got people interested. After that, I started doing challenges with the customers who were coming in. They were curious about certain challenge items I was selling and asked if they could do the challenge. I told them if they let me film them doing the challenge, they could do it. Lots of people don't want to be filmed so only a few said okay. That's how the views got started. One kid that came in and ate the peanuts was reluctant at first. His dad was hyping him up and chanting! I told the boy if he ate the peanuts right now, I will give you your entire order for free. So he did it!"
Have you heard of the One Chip Challenge? How about the Peanut Challenge?
"I started with some popular challenges like the One Chip Challenge and the Peanut Challenge. The One Chip Challenge is a singular chip made by the company Paqui. They claim to have made the World's Hottest Chip. It is made using the Carolina Reaper, the hottest chile pepper on the planet. The chip is the color black because it is covered in so much seasoning. The Peanut Challenge is a tube of peanuts called the Tube of Terror made by Blazing Foods. They claim to be the hottest challenge available. The peanuts are covered with the five hottest peppers in the world: Carolina Reaper, Ghost Pepper, Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, 7 Pot Brain Strain and 7 Pot Duglah. They also claim that the peppers were not hot enough, so they added a sprinkle of all natural 13,000,000 Scoville capsaicin crystals. Some guy came in and ate 10 chocolate-covered crickets from a packet. We have all kinds of food challenges."
For reference, a jalapeño pepper ranges 2,500-5,000 Scoville Heat Units and a Carolina Reaper is 2,200,000 Scoville Heat Units. The Carolina Reaper is officially the hottest pepper in the world so if you eat enough of it quickly, it could kill you. The store also carries Lil' Nitro: The World's Hottest Gummy Bear. The flaming hot treat measures 9,000,000 Scoville Heat Units which is 900 times hotter than a jalapeño.
So far, Minnis has given every participant of the extreme food challenges who let him film them their entire order for free as a sign of gratitude because the TikTok videos have brought him so many new customers. The first customer to be filmed did one chip challenge and that video currently has half a million views.
The candy connoisseur is looking for customers willing to do a new food challenge and be filmed. Some have eaten chocolate-covered insects, others are requesting sour challenges. If you come in to do a challenge that has not been completed before, you let him film you for the store's TikTok, and you complete the challenge, you could possibly get your order for free. Minnis likes giving a discount as a surprise for his customers. He is grateful because the viral videos give him so much business and surprised at how many customers do not want to be filmed.
Minnis has ordered and is awaiting the arrival of Mega Sour Fruit Pips from across the pond. They are reportedly the most sour candy in the world.
The store has 44,900 TikTok followers and the handle is PopsExotic. Minnis says he posts about once a day.
"TikTok has just been incredible. I've had Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat the whole two and a half years my business has been open. TikTok has brought in more business for me since Christmas than all of the other platforms put together. The people coming in from the videos are mostly millennials and older. More parents come in and bring goodies home to their kids. 8 out of 10 people that come in say that they saw me on TikTok and had to come in!"
Are you a transplant missing snacks from back home? Feeling nostalgic and want your favorite after-school snack? Mike Minnis, Owner of Pops Exotic, wants you to contact him and he will find it for you.
Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 602.761.0720 to get your fix!
If you want to visit, here is the address:
Pop's Exotic Sodas & Snacks
423 N Country Club Dr. Suite 41
Mesa, Arizona 85201