For old-timers who can fondly recall the days before the attention-grabbing world of cell phones and tablets, on-demand and streaming movies (even iconic CDs and VHS tapes), entertainment for teenagers or families on a Friday or Saturday would consist of roller skating at the neighborhood rink or spending hours at a matinee to see the latest flick (or two for the price of one ticket!). Whether going with a group of friends or a first date, as soon as you entered into the theater lobby, the very next stop was the concession stand which intentionally kept the kernels popping to fill the air with the addictive smell of buttered popcorn. Be charming enough and the concessions worker would fulfill your request of pouring half of the popcorn in the box, pump on gooey butter, let you add salt and shake the box for just the right blend. Then followed by a topping off with more popped kernels and finishing with additional liquid gold for the anticipated pleasurable eating exercise.
Movies and popcorn have a long love affair, yet there are certain events or places that also wouldn’t be the same without munching on this snack which has evolved into somewhat of a delicacy. Popcorn reigns supreme at sporting events, or the annual summer county fair with concession trailers serving scrumptious caramel corn, and even street vendors positioned perfectly in a park or the street with substantial walking traffic.
Popcorn results into more of a guilty pleasure, when heightened with exotic flavors, whereas no one in their right mind would test on popped kernels except for those who consider themselves popcorn chemists striving to create the perfect balance of crunch, limited un-popped kernels and practically dissolves in your mouth. And then to add flavors drawn from other dishes will tickle any foodies’ tastes buds.
Popcorn has become quite a high end “junk food” from the origins of historic brands such as Orville Redenbacher, Jolly Time or Cracker Jack. The industry serves a wide range of tastes whether from the instant microwave chemically induced products to the old fashion method of stovetop popping, or the healthier way of air popping (note: minus the oil, butter, and salt) as being rich in antioxidants and dietary fiber are low in fat and calories.
Gourmet popcorn has become an indulgence and an ongoing quest for foodies to find popcorn that carves out a space of being “exclusive”. Food chemists combine both science and art to produce euphoric flavors of savory and/or sweet. For true aficionados, the compelling argument is its versatility in providing an array of tastes from dry, gooey, sweet, salty, spicy, buttered or plain.
Below are the popcorn gourmet masters across North America and London, with a nod to a couple of my hometown shops. In case, your travels don’t allow you to visit but you’re craving a particular flavor, all offer online ordering:
- Garrett Popcorn-considered one of the best gourmet popcorn master crafters
- Pop Karma – the website states their currently in a restructuring hiatus with a future reopening date
- Kettle Corn NYC
- Bar Harbor Popcorn located in Maine
- Great Popcorn – located in Galena, Illinois and offers a huge variety of gourmet flavors to tickle the fancy of tastes of popcorn lovers
- Mary’s Popcorn – Canadian gourmet popcorn that has several franchise locations throughout Canada
- Black Pig Meat Company – bacon is an ingredient… enough said?
- Motor City Popcorn – variety flavors named after Detroit landmarks
- Popcornopolis – West coast gourmet popcorn company with some out- of- this-world flavors including Lemon, Red Velvet and Zebra (dark and white confectioners chocolate drizzled over caramel corn)
- Jettas Gourmet Popcorn – another gourmet shop representing Motown
- Joe and Sephs – Located in Great Britan. Offers a monthly subscription service, over 50 gourmet flavors including newly introduced Mango and Passion Fruit, Mint Chocolate or their exotic Olive Oil, Truffle Oil, and Truffle Salt Popcorn
- Berco’s Popcorn – Absolutely had to make this list for the most indulgent (and expensive) caramel popcorn on the list. Named the “Billion Dollar Popcorn” with ingredients of organic sugar, Vermont Creamery butter, Nielson Massey Bourbon Vanilla, Danish Island Laeso salt and covered in 23 karat edible gold flake. Prices range from one kernel at $5.00 to 6.5- gallon tin priced at $2,500.00
The next time you’re hosting a binge-worthy television show event within the privacy of your home entertainment room or private theater and desire to spoil your guests with the finest popcorn that money can buy, there are some wonderful options. And don’t forget the wine, red licorice, raisinets, and chocolate-covered peanuts! – AJ
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Hat Tip to photographers of Unsplash and Pixabay!
Martin Spiske – Movie Theatre Popcorn
Sampane – private movie theatre
Ashley1355 – kernels being mixed in kettle
Dan Wirdefalks – chocolate covered popcorn
Ben Albert – kernels
Ben Albert – popcorn on a stump
Tessa Robbins – pic of popped kernels