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Industry NewsComeback Snacks and the importance of second chances

Comeback Snacks and the importance of second chances

emilyobrien-6655148Emily O’Brien of Comeback Snacks. Photo by Martyna Dorumad.

Comeback Snacks’ quippy taglines say it all—Popcorn so good, it’s criminal and Made with conviction!  The company’s signature popcorn recipes, and its mission, were conceptualized by Emily O’Brien while she was incarcerated.

Today, not only is Comeback Snacks a successful, unique entrepreneurial food venture; but O’Brien’s business is focused on supporting other people with criminal records leaving the prison system to re-enter society and their lives.

“Coming to prison as a first-time offender was unnerving, and I felt so much anxiety at first. If you think it’s hard on the outside to eat a healthy diet, being in prison brings that challenge to the next level. I think most people I shared my time with would attest to the fact that food is often a way to combat anxiety and depression. Maintaining a healthy balance is difficult, and when this poses a challenge to your self-image it just makes an already depressing situation worse, like adding insult to injury,” says O’Brien.

She explains that a few months into her incarceration, she noticed that some of the women were making their own recipes with the ingredients available to them within their food budgets—recipes that included sprinkling Splenda and cinnamon, lemon pepper and dill, and even melting peanut butter and jelly over popcorn.

O’Brien says that she was struck by how smart and creative it was. “Popcorn was like this simple blank canvas for women of all backgrounds to express themselves through different mixes of spices and other flavours,” she explains.

O’Brien did her time. She developed a business plan and her will to help others. She wanted to use “her creativity for good,” as she phrases it. She was released from prison, and then she founded her business.

Comeback Snacks products are distributed through Neal Brothers Foods. O’Brien credits Peter Neal and the company with supporting and inspiring the success of her unique brand of snacks and for giving her the chance to contribute to society and industry.

Today Comeback Snacks products are available in over 200 stores across Canada, and the company recently received its trademark for the U.S.

With plans to launch its savoury line of flavours soon, and introduce a new line of packaging, the future looks bright for O’Brien and her team.

Comeback Snacks is growing and interested in partnership opportunities in both Canada and the U.S. with retailers, distributors, event organizers and corporate buyers.

To learn more about Comeback Snacks and its mission, please visit


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