BOULDER - For a global franchiser of ice-cream stands, a Boulder-based popcorn company may be just what the doctor ordered.

Doc Popcorn International Inc., a company at 3200 Carbon Place in Boulder that sells gourmet popcorn through franchised shops, has been acquired by Paducah, Ky.-based Dippin' Dots Franchising LLC, purveyors of flash-frozen pellet-textured ice creams.

Details of the transaction between the two privately held companies, including the purchase price, were not disclosed.

"Dippin' Dots growth strategy includes both organic growth and acquisitions," Mark Leibel, vice president for business development and new ventures at Dippin' Dots, said in a prepared statement. "We see opportunities to expand Doc Popcorn's distribution both domestically and abroad, as well as the potential to jointly sell both brands' products in existing venues and new venues."

Although Doc Popcorn's business will be operated from Kentucky, a media statement indicated that it will maintain a presence in Boulder. The privately owned company has 93 locations and about 100 franchise partners in 30 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Japan. The Asian deal was finalized in March when Doc Popcorn signed a franchise agreement with FS Planning to develop 10 PopShop stores in Japan.

Doc Popcorn's corporate culture is corny, to say the least, with puns popping up everywhere. Husband-and-wife co-founders Rob and Renee Israel, who started blending and popping their naturally flavored popcorn in the kitchen of their New York City apartment in 2003, call themselves "Big Pop" and "Mama Pop," respectively. They refer to their operations director as the "pop-erator" and their franchise owners as "pop-rietors," Then there's the "Pop It Forward" program, in which retail locations are encouraged to give away a fresh-popped bag of Doc Popcorn each week to someone in need.

Doc Popcorn offers fresh-popped, all-natural flavored popcorn. It pops its whole-grain non-GMO kernels in 100 percent corn oil and offers a wide variety of distinctive flavors such as "sinfully cinnamon" and "hoppin' jalapeno" made from blends of natural ingredients. Franchise models include the PopShop, PopKiosk and Mobile PopCart.

The Israels will remain active in the business, and all 20 employees in Boulder will stay on.

"With the industry experience, reach and resources of Dippin' Dots behind us," said Rob Israel in the media statement, "we can continue to execute our vision of creating smiles all over the world with Doc Popcorn's great tasting, freshly popped snack, all the while offering our current franchise base additional opportunities and expertise."

Doc Popcorn's impressive growth earned more than a kernel of local and national attention last year. It ranked second on the Boulder County Business Report's 2013 Mercury 100 list of fastest-growing companies in Boulder and Broomfield counties for companies reporting more than $2 million in annual revenue. According to an Inc. magazine listing of the 500 fastest-growing privately held firms in the United States, Doc Popcorn had $7.2 million in sales at the end of 2012. The company also ranked 255th on the prestigious Entrepreneur Magazine's Franchise 500 list in 2013.

Doc Popcorn was one of 12 companies based in Boulder and Broomfield counties that appeared on a "Colorado Companies to Watch" list issued in June 2013 by Capital Value Advisors and the Edward Lowe Foundation. The program recognizes 50 second-stage companies that are developing valuable products and services, creating quality jobs, enriching communities and creating new industries throughout the state.

Dippin' Dots franchisees sell the beaded ice creams at fairs and festivals as well as kiosks and fixed locations. The company was founded in 1988 by microbiologist Curt Jones, who pioneered the process of "cryogenic encapsulation" - using super-cold liquid nitrogen freezing methods to make little beads of ice cream.

From its roots in a retail store in Lexington, Ky., a stand at the Opryland amusement park in Nashville, Tenn., and gatherings of friends and family in Jones' hometown in Pulaski County, Ill., the company grew to include thousands of locations worldwide.