July 11, 2017

A Complete Guide on Popcorn: Five of the Best Popcorn Kernels in the Market

Best Popcorn Kernels

If you’re watching in the movie theater, streaming your favorite series on Netflix or just want to snack on something, what’s the first thing that you crave for? Others prefer chips, some would like candies or burgers, but for me, a buttery salted popcorn is just the perfect food to satisfy my cravings (I’m munching on one right now).

I’m going to explain to you the history of popcorn, where did the glorious food come from, how is it made, the types of popcorn kernels, and a selection of the best popcorn kernels in the market to save you from the trouble of researching and watching Youtube reviews.

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  • For more information about the product listed, you may check individual items at Amazon.com

THE “POP” HISTORY OF POPCORN

Why does popcorn “pop” when cooked? You can find the answer in the corn kernel.

Popcorn comes from a variety of corn called “maize” that produces small kernels with hard outer shells. When cooking the kernel, you have to place it in a pot with butter and set the stove to a low heat setting.

The moisture from the kernel steams the pot and causes the outer shell to burst, releasing the soft inner flake and creating a popping sound through the pot. Hence, the name popcorn.

With regards to popcorn’s roots, maize arrived during the pre-Columbian age, over 2500 years ago, but was later found growing in Mississippi until the early 1800s.

Best Popcorn Kernels

Indigenous people domesticated maize throughout America. It was a good source of nutritional starch and also a popular food stock for pig fatteners.

Evidence of popcorn’s first “pop” appeared in the 1820s when it was sold on the east side of America. By the 1840s, popcorn became a favorite snack of Americans.

If we’ve excited your interest in popcorn, here is a short video chronicling the science and history of popcorn.

POPING THAT KERNEL

Cooking popcorn from scratch can be tricky (as we all have experienced) because not every last kernel will pop -- some will stay as it is or burn at the bottom of the pan which is super annoying.

Not to brag, but I perfected the art of cooking popcorn from years of experience working in a snack bar inside the movie theater. I would love to detail every step for you, but you may just want to read this recipe article to help you cook that perfect batch of popcorn instead.

TWO TYPES OF POPCORN

Were you surprised that popcorn had different types? I know I was. It goes to show that we don’t care about the food’s appearance or things related to it except its heavenly taste.

Popcorn kernels can differ in color, size, and flavor profile. Don’t get confused they’re still the yummy snacks we love to munch on! Kernels are usually divided into two varieties -- the “white” and “yellow”.

Let’s find out their differences!

White Popcorn

Best Popcorn Kernels

Just like the one I’m munching right now, white popcorn pops up a sparkling white. It’s smaller compared to the yellow variant and has a neutral, pure popcorn flavor that goes great with flavors like cheese, barbecue, sour cream, and chocolate (yes! you heard it right).

A salty popcorn added with sweet rich chocolate is just heaven to munch on!

White popcorn has the following sub-varieties:

  • Lady Finger
  • Baby White
  • Sweet Baby Blue
  • Tender & White

These are just some of the most common white popcorn varieties you can find in the market.

Yellow Popcorn

Best Popcorn Kernels

Yellow popcorn pops a yellow tint, hence the name. This type is generally sold in movie theaters because it apparently looks more buttery and has a more distinctive flavor of corn, with some people describing it as slightly “nutty”.

Yellow popcorn ranges in size as well. Baby yellow will pop slightly smaller than others whereas the big yellow and extra large caramel pops larger. The larger ones are excellent for mixing with flavors, seasonings, and glazes.

Now that we’ve covered the two types of popcorn, let’s cover some of the different additional types and characteristics of popcorn.

SOME POPCORN CHARACTERISTICS

Hulless Popcorn

Some people describe popcorn as “hulless”. This is not a variety of popcorn, rather a simple characteristic of popcorn.

All corns have hulls. Some popcorn pops with more hulls and some with less. You know that hard yellow bit that gets stuck in between your teeth or lies at the bottom of your popcorn bag when you consume it? Those are hulls.

If you can’t stand the annoying feeling of picking stuck hulls in between your teeth, choose a variety that produces less.

Usually, the smaller the popcorn kernel, the thinner the hull and the lesser the likelihood of hulls getting stuck in between your teeth!

Hulless varieties include the Baby White, Baby Yellow, Lady Finger, Midnight Blue, Vintage Red, and Tender and White.

Butterfly-Shaped Popcorn (Winged Popcorn)

It’s not a variety of popcorn; rather the shape certain popcorn types assume when cooked. If you want granulated seasonings and toppings to coat and stick to every last popcorn, wings are the best at it! Wings are the nooks, crannies, and flaps that help coat your seasonings.

Mushroom Shapes

As the name suggests, mushroom-shaped popcorn pops a more solid, round popcorn, like the head of a mushroom. This shape is ideal for caramel or chocolate-glazed popcorn.

It’s stronger than the butterfly-shaped type because it keeps its shape even under the pressure of applying heavy coating and won’t easily crumble down when mixed with seasonings.

You’ve got a lot of choices when it comes to popcorn! Try other types from the one you’re used to eating -- you might find it more flavorful. Or you can combine different types and add different kinds of seasonings. It’s up to you!

For more information about choosing the best type of popcorn for you, watch this short video.

A SUMMARY OF THE FIVE BEST POPCORN KERNELS IN THE MARKET

  • For more information about the product listed, you may check individual items at Amazon.com

A DETAILED REVIEW OF THE FIVE BEST POPCORN KERNELS IN THE MARKET

1. Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn Kernels, Original Yellow

Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn Kernels

Via Amazon.com

Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popcorn Kernels is one of the premium popcorns in the market. With a delicious nutty flavor and crispy crunch on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside, you’ll surely be eating every last piece.

Also, it’s 100 % Non-GMO, 100% whole-grain, and gluten-free (Are you now convinced that popcorn is good for you? Switch to popcorn instead of those potato chips!).

I’m a popcorn addict, and I can honestly tell you that Orville Rademacher's is consistently the one of the top popcorns in the market. It produces huge volumes of popcorn when cooked, has amazing texture, and a unique nutty flavor that you can only find in OR products.

Every time I cook OR, I never once had a problem with it sticking to the pan, and there were no burnt pieces of popcorn ever. It’s super fluffy! When I use other brands, either not all the kernels pop (with ones on the bottom burnt a little) or the cooked kernels were just halfway to the pot.

With OR, I was shocked upon opening the lid because it was way over the top!


PROS

  • No artificial flavors
  • Made with natural ingredients
  • Consistent Popcorn Flavor
  • Great Volume of Popcorn
  • Non-GMO Kernels

CONS

  • Costly

2. Gold Medal Products Popcorn and Oil Kit

Gold Medal Products Co 24Ct Coconut Oil Kit 2838 Popcorn

Via Amazon.com

This premium popcorn weighs eight ounces each bag and comes with a coconut oil kit (generally used oil to cook popcorn in theaters). It produces smaller pops that are definitely tasty and tender in flavor.

Flavacol seasoning salt is best used to flavor this popcorn. The difference between regular salt and Flavacol salt lies in the finer texture of the latter, making it stick more to the popcorn when sprinkled.

  • Note: Since this salt is very fine, don’t sprinkle too much or else your popcorn will taste like sea water! A little sprinkle goes a long way.

This popcorn kernel is amazing! The kernels sprinkled with Flavacol salt really compliments the buttery flavor of the popcorn.

To learn more about Flavacol, refer to the video below.

This is our ultimate go-to snack every time my family conclude Friday nights with movie marathons. We just place it in the popcorn machine and voila! The amount of popcorn is just sufficient for us and flavor is simply unparalleled.


PROS

  • No artificial flavors
  • Made with natural ingredients
  • Consistent popcorn flavor
  • Great volume of popcorn

CONS

  • Costly
  • Not all Kernels Pop

3. Jolly Time Blast-O Butter Theater Style Microwave Popcorn

Jolly Time Blast O Butter Theater Style Microwave Popcorn

Via Amazon.com

Grown and packed in the USA since 1914, our favorite Jolly Time Blast-O is the best-tasting popcorn and the ultimate savory theater-style buttery flavor ever. This pack contains 6 bags, with 3.5 ounces per bag.

No cholesterol, made with natural ingredients and 100% whole grains, high in fiber content, and gluten-free -- perfect for those people watching their weight but still want to snack on something tasty.

This is the best microwave popcorn ever! It won’t disappoint because it’s the closest to the goodness of movie theater-style popcorn you can have at home -- definitely worth every penny.

Not to mention it’s not made with PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) unlike other products in the market. It’s worth noting that PFOA is hazardous to the environment and the body because when eaten, it doesn’t digest easily, causing high blood levels.

For more information about the causes of PFOA watch this video


PROS

  • No artificial flavors
  • Made with natural ingredients
  • Gluten-free
  • Consistent popcorn flavor
  • Great volume of popcorn

CONS

  • Costly

4. Certified Organic Old Fashioned Great Northern Popcorn

Certified Organic 8 Oz Old Fashioned Great Northern Popcorn

Via Amazon.com

USDA organically certified, this popcorn is cultured with no fertilizers and pest controls -- purely love and care from the farmers. It features all-natural yellow kernels flavored with sea salt (NO added flavorings).

These kernels are carefully selected for the perfect shape, size, and tender flavor. Upon purchasing, you’ll get a bag of coconut oil to recreate the perfect theater popcorn-like flavor.

This is by far one of the tastiest popcorn we’ve ever bought. When I first tasted the popcorn, I was reminded of what my childhood was like. My family and I would watch a movie every month of the year and never did I pass up the chance munching on my all- time favorite snack.

I’ve been trying to break the microwave popcorn habit and began searching for some better products out there. When I bought this product, I also bought a popcorn machine. Can you imagine the overflowing popcorn in our house? Feel free to come by when your craving for one!


PROS

  • No artificial flavors
  • Made with natural ingredients
  • Consistent popcorn flavor
  • Great volume of popcorn
  • USDA-Approved

CONS

  • Costly
  • Not all kernels pop

5. Jolly Time Simply Popped Natural Microwave Popcorn with Ghee Clarified Butter & Sea Salt

Jolly Time Simply Popped Natural Microwave Popcorn with Ghee Clarified Butter & Sea Salt

Via Amazon.com

Jolly Time is a family-owned company that has been operating since 1914 and is the first massive popcorn manufacturers in America.

Each pack features four 3-ounce bags of melt-in-your-mouth popcorn. The kernels have a yellow color, but upon cooking, it turns into a fluffy white, that when combined with butter and salt, gives off a heavenly flavor.

These are non-GMO kernels; made with natural ingredients and 100% corn kernels. Moreover, it’s gluten-free and only measures 35 calories per cup -- good news for health buffs! All the calorie-conscious people out there are allowed to indulge in this snack.

For more information about Non-GMO kernels watch the video below 

Clearly, this is one of the best. You only need salt, butter and 2 minutes in the microwave, and hooray! Time to binge watch that series you’ve been missing on.


PROS

  • No artificial flavors
  • Made with natural ingredients
  • Consistent popcorn flavor
  • Great volume of popcorn
  • Non-GMO kernels
  • Cheap

CONS

  • Not all kernels pop

KEEP IT POPPING!

And the winner for the best popcorn kernel is…. Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popcorn Kernels, Original Yellow!

This product is indeed the best among the five because it’s 100% made from corn and contains zero cholesterol, so you can enjoy every last piece without the guilt of getting fat or having high blood pressure.

It’s also Gluten-free, ideal for people on their diets and living a gluten-free lifestyle. You don’t have to worry about your love handles getting flabby or your butt getting bigger. Just enjoy watching the movie with your yummy popcorn right beside you.

Keep those kernels popping!

Did you find this article useful? Have you had any experience with other brands of popcorn? If you can recommend other popcorn brands, feel free to comment below. Don’t forget to share this post. Cheers, mate!

    Jade Evans

    Hi there, I’m Jade, a person passionate about cooking and all things food-related. My kitchen inspirations were my mother and grandmother who have always regarded cooking as an art. As a mother of two daughters, I find it hard to keep up with my cooking sometimes, so I sought the help of other food bloggers to curate fantastic and hearty dishes for you, my readers. This blog chronicles my food ventures, original recipes, and cooking tips to inspire and ignite the inner foodie in you.

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