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In the two decades since he helped the Chicago Bulls win six NBA titles, Scottie Pippen says one of the main things he's focused on is his health.
The 55-year-old former hooper tells PEOPLE he's adjusted his diet now that he's only burning "half" the energy he was during his 17-year career. It was one of the life changes that inspired him to partner with chef R.C. Mills to produce HUSK, a "health-forward" popcorn made with organic, gluten-free, and vegan ingredients, according to the duo.
HUSK — which will launch on July 6 — will come in a variety of flavors made with fruits, vegetables and spices to form a whole grain popcorn. This includes matcha and coconut water, cayenne and ginger, and kale and broccoli, as well as yacon and turmeric, moringa and spirulina, and dragonfruit.
Pippen and Mills recently spoke with PEOPLE to discuss how they came together and why they believe they've "found something that is going to be a necessity, an essential to every household."
How did you two meet?
Scottie: As a fan, he followed me around when I played during my professional career. He would try to work at restaurants and wait tables that he felt like I would be at. So in passing over my 17 years, he's worked at some nice restaurants. ... So we crossed paths several times, more so in passing. And I think it was for a reason that we finally connected.
R.C.: Well, I always tell him the reason why he won that 1996 championship is because of my chicken sandwich. It wasn't his skills, it was my chicken sandwich.
And now here you are with Husk. How did that idea come about?
R.C.: The thing we realized is that a lot of the snacks were salty/sweet, so to speak, and we like that. We enjoy salty/sweet snacks, but we wanted to create something in a totally different dynamic that will be salty snack, but have some superfood ingredients. At least at the end of the day, when you have your serving of the popcorn, you won't feel as though, "Hey, I just a salty sweet/snack and I feel like crap." When you eat this and you've finished, you'll feel like, "Okay, that was good." It just gives you energy — the ingredients — at the end of the day.
Scottie, what's your role with the company?
Scottie: I'm a jack-of-all, master of none. Me and R.C., we've been partners so it's a joint venture. This superfood snack is something that I'm behind because I believe it, and I think it's something that parents will be able to relate to, especially mothers who want to have their kids eat healthy snacks.
But R.C.'s the creator. Since I've been with him, his mind is just been running like a train.
Talk about the process of creating everything.
R.C.: Two and a half years of R&D. And Scottie can tell you, we were in the trenches together because there was some stuff that we — when we were doing our tests — we were like, "Yeah, we could make this a little bit better. Yeah, we can bring this down." Then you go through the certification process of getting it USD organic, getting it kosher, getting it gluten-free, vegan, the whole nine yards. It really takes a time to build a brand like this. And we feel as though that we did the hard work in creating something special that the entire country to enjoy.
Scottie: It's been pretty much a long journey getting all the R&D and everything that it takes to bring a product to the marketplace. It's new for me, because I'm new to the snack world. So I'm learning along the way. But I think we've created something very good and very special and healthy. And as RC was just alluding on, is that we have something that we think that every kid should love, and that's eating his vegetables and eating something that's healthy. We think we've hit a home run with Husk.
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So wait, is it made how traditional popcorn is made —
Scottie: It's a secret.
R.C.: It's a secret! A trade secret.
Okay, so there's some magic behind it?
R.C.: There is some magic behind it. And it helps to have a guy who's had six championships with the NBA.
He's someone who knows a thing or two about success.
R.C.: Success. Exactly. And the secret ingredient.
Scottie: The secret to winning.