Drum & Kernel; Popping at a market near you soon.

Branded Gazebo Market Stall
Drum & Kernel’s Branded Pop Up Gazebo at Broadway Market

There’s a real theatre to making popcorn. Or at least, there is the way Drum & Kernel make it.
Stood beneath his eye-catching red market stall canopy behind a clear safety sheet, Drum & Kernel co-founder Matt Mead — who’s wearing full overalls, welding gloves and a tree fellers face guard — stirs the popcorn kernels as they pop, bang and whistle furiously in the large drum cooker from which his company takes its name. “We’re popcorn purists, and I hope the name reflects that.” says Matt. This rather unique and noisy spectacle coupled with Matt’s shall-we-say somewhat eccentric attire is drawing in a large and curious camera-weilding crowd to their Market Stall at Broadway Market in East London.

“…it’s vital!” says Matt of his safety gear. “The very best kettle corn is hand popped, but that does mean an awful lot of sugar and oil splashing about at around 200 degrees. And despite all the gear, sometimes a rogue kernel will still pop down your neck or, worse, into the welding gloves. We have some excellent popcorn scars we can bring out at dinner parties…”
Drum and Kernel PopcornSomewhat bizarrely, Matt’s description of the dangers of popcorn production are not dissimilar to those encountered within our own business during the manufacture of the market stall and pop up gazebo frameworks that Matt and many street food vendors like him trade from within; rather than popcorn kemels however we’re instead dealing with red hot welding sparks which, on rare occasions and despite our best efforts, can end up in places they shouldn’t and, like Matt, many of our manufacturing team, myself included, have a few battle scars that we’ve accumulated over the last 40 years of market stall production.

“If I’m at the kettle, I probably won’t notice until I tip the batch, and then if I’m lucky, I get a round of applause!”


It’s early March and it feels like Spring is just around the corner; there isn’t a cloud in the sky and Broadway Market which lies beside Hackney’s London Fields and by virtue currently one of the most in-vogue markets in East London, is absolutely thronging. Jamie, Matt’s assistant for the day, stands in relative safety in front of their Drum & Kernel emblazoned pop up gazebo handing out free tasters to the rapidly growing crowd. The theatrical element of the popcorn making process was never intentional explains Matt, “…we weren’t really expecting that when we started the business … it’s often the case that one or two people watching the process can quickly turn into a crowd. If I’m at the kettle, I probably won’t notice until I tip the batch, and then if I’m lucky, I get a round of applause!”

Printed Gazebo Logo Drum and Kernel
Drum & Kernel’s Iconic logo has also been used on their Printed Gazebo and Market Stall shelters to further strengthen their brand

“Markets at their best are vibrant, social spaces, and the more we can do to engage people the better” continues Matt. It’s a sentiment shared not only by ourselves but also by high street retail guru Mary Portas who, in her government commissioned report on the future of Britain’s high streets, cites Markets and their role in enriching local communities and inspiring grass roots enterprise as being vital to the future of our town centres. “It feels great to be part of such a healthy and vibrant street food scene in London at the moment. You look around a market like Broadway and the cross-section of businesses is incredible. So much energy and talent – and the great thing about markets is they are accessible, so you can take ideas and try them out with your customers right there without the huge overheads involved in a shop or premises”.

Broadway Market with its array of music, fashion, art and pet accessory market stalls positions itself as something a little more diverse and, dare I say, more interesting than just another street food market. It is however only one of a number of Markets in the London area which Drum & Kernel regularly attend with their roots lying on the south side of the river in East Dulwich and Herne Hill where they originally learnt to ply their trade “…in our expansion over the past year we have taken the radical step of crossing the river up to Broadway and Alexandra Palace markets. It’s been great to get to know those areas – it’s a cliche, but London is a city of villages and every market has its own character. We also trade at London festivals and events like pop-up cinemas. So far, keeping things within the M25 has been more than enough to keep us really busy, but who knows in the future. We certainly wouldn’t rule out taking our kettles further afield.”

“You look around a market like Broadway and the cross-section of businesses is incredible. So much energy and talent – and the great thing about markets is they are accessible, so you can take ideas and try them out with your customers right there without the huge overheads involved in a shop or premises”

Matt speaks like a seasoned professional but it may come as a surprise to some to discover that Drum & Kernel which he runs with business partner Claire — neither of whom have a background in market trading — is only in its second year of trading. “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind!” he exclaims, “…we doubled in size this time last year and are currently focusing on really consolidating that expansion, training staff, and maintaining equipment. It feels nice just to be taking a breath and enjoying getting to know our new markets”.

Printed Market Stall Branded Drum and Kernel
One of Drum & Kernel’s printed Market Stalls photographed during a test fitting of the canopies at our Factory in Derbyshire.

On the subject of expansion, a topic with which we can associate as our own Market Stall and Pop Up Gazebo manufacturing business continues to grow, Matt explains some of the issues faced by their burgeoning business; “we’ve started to work much more with employees, and that means sometimes learning how to let go and let them take on more responsibility – not necessarily an easy thing when it’s your business, but so important. And like every small business we have to keep a close eye on cashflow and costs, and during the expansion process that hawkish eye-for-detail was particularly important.”

The hawkish eye for detail which Matt speaks of can also be found in their product, the raw ingredients of which must be sourced from the USA to ensure quality. It’s also evident in their iconic company branding which was developed in partnership with South London design studio Mentsen and features heavily on the printed gazebo and market stall structures which we’ve supplied to Drum & Kernel over the last year. Their logo is a timeless piece of design which encapsulates perfectly the fun and theatre of the product that they produce.

The devil, they say, is in the detail. And in all respects it seems Drum & Kernel have nailed it. Visit www.drumandkernelpopcorn.co.uk to see an up to date list of markets which Drum & Kernel are currently attending.

Twickenham Farmers Market Review

Twickenham Farmers Market
Twickenham Farmers Market Entrace

On a crisp and sunny January morning we made our way to Holly Road Car Park at the back of Marks & Spencers Food Court in the heart of Twickenham’s bustling town centre where lies its weekly farmers’ market and one of the longest establish markets of its kind in London. Being situated behind the high street makes this perhaps not most visible or obvious of locations for a market and, despite decent signage, it could be argued that it suffers a little from low footfall as pedestrians need to make quite a diversion in order to access it. Even with local knowledge on our side we ended up cutting through M&S and out of the back exit before we eventually stumbled across it.

The journey is well rewarded however with a small but lively market consisting of pop up gazebos, tressle tables and more traditional style steel framed market stalls, all serving up a range of local produce including cheeses, breads and pies with lots of free samples on offer to convince discerning shoppers to part with their cash. The market seemed to be lacking fresh fish on the day of our visit although we were told that Gary’s Fresh Fish stall is usually present. That said, the market’s close proximity to the excellent independent Sandy’s Fishmongers on King Street — reputedly the cause of many a queue down Twickenham’s high street during the run up to christmas as locals line up for their seasonal seafood platters — would likely be very stiff competition for any competitor hoping to cash in on weekend trade.

Twickenham Farmers Market
Twickenham Farmers Market

The highlight of our trip was, without doubt, the Cakehole market stall run by Lara Morley. The range of tantalising cupcakes on offer left our mouths watering and their fine baked goods are the likely cause of many a curtailed diet! Check out Cakehole’s website for more details. Another notable highlight was the Pieminister market stall. Pieminister are an award winning pie bakery based in Bristol although you may well be familiar with the name as they continue to expand their chain of highstreet pie restaurants throughout the UK (and now Europe, owing to their recent restaurant opening in Amsterdam). They sell an impressive range of pies made from 100% British free range meat and other ingredients supplied by some of Britain’s finest artisan producers. We were impressed to see that a growing brand like Pieminister continues to recognise the value of local markets.

If you’re a punter passing through Twickenham then this Farmers’ Market is highly recommended. Combine your visit with a trip to some of Twickenham’s great independent shops such as Sandy’s Fishmongers on King Street and Corto Italian Deli on Church Street (to name but a very few) and take in the sights of York Gardens on the banks of the Thames, right opposite Eel Pie Island which is home to Eel Pie Recording Studios where some of Britain’s most influential bands have recorded.

York Gardens Twickenham
York Gardens Twickenham

For more information about Twickenham Farmers Market you can visit the Twickenham Farmer’s Market Website and check out their Facebook page for regular updates.

For traders interested in attending this market please note that tressle tabels, pop up gazebos, instant shelters and market stalls are not provided by the organisers so must be obtained by the market trader.
View our range of pop up gazebos and market stalls and visit our online store, TraderSupplies.co.uk to buy market stalls and pop up gazebos online.