What’s the Best Popcorn Brand? The Ultimate Popcorn Kernel Taste Test

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Does each different popcorn kernel type have a distinctive taste… or do they all pretty much taste the same?

Wayne Schmidt of waynesthisandthat.com recently conducted an in-depth taste review of 20 different types of popcorn kernels.  Let’s take a look at what he discovered.

orville redenbacher's pop cornOrville Redenbacher: America’s Favorite Popcorn Brand

According to a statista.com survey published in 2015, Orville Redenbacher is still the number one leading popcorn brand in the US.  Almost a quarter of the respondents preferred Orville Redenbacher over all other popcorn brands.

When Wayne Schmidt compared Orville Redenbacher to other less popular leading popcorn brands he didn’t notice any big differences between the resultant popcorn– other than the fact that Orville Redenbacher popcorn cost him three times as much money.

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The Big Popcorn Kernel Showdown: Yellow vs. White

The majority of the popcorn that you find in most stores comes from either yellow or white kernels.  Here’s the major differences between the two most popular kernel types.

  • Shape and texture.  Yellow kernel popcorn is slightly fluffier and crunchier compared to tender white kernel popcorn.  
  • Size.  Yellow kernel popcorn is slightly larger than white kernel popcorn.
  • Flavor.  The flavor of white and yellow kernel popcorn is almost identical, but some people say that white kernel popcorn is sweeter.
  • Nutritional content.  According to dietician Jill Corleone, the overall difference between white and yellow popcorn is significant– but slight.  White popcorn has just a few more extra calories and carbs.

Schmidt’s Verdict: There’s No Big Taste Difference Between Yellow and White

After trying out many different types of yellow and white popcorn kernels, Wayne Schmidt concluded that there wasn’t much of a taste difference.  

Aside from a few slight differences in texture, white and yellow popcorn were pretty hard to tell apart.

Other Exotic Popcorn Types

Thanks to Schmidt we now know that when it comes to popular popcorn, there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between the various brands.  We also know that white and yellow kernels are just about equal in almost every way.  

But what about gourmet popcorn?  

Listed below are a few of the most interesting things that Wayne Schmidt discovered about gourmet popcorn during his popcorn comparison test.

    • Orange Blossom popcorn by Fireworks.  Schmidt wrote that Orange Blossom kernels produce a loud, satisfying pop when they explode into fresh popcorn.  
    • Gourmet Purple by Amish Country.  While testing Gourmet Purple, Schmidt noticed that half of the popcorn came out yellow and the other half came out white.  He also observed that the texture of Gourmet Purple popcorn was chewy compared to the other kernel types he tested.
    • High Mountain Midnight by Fireworks.  High Mountain popcorn kernels are almost totally black.  The resultant popcorn you get from these kernels is delicately crunchy, according to Schmidt.

And the Best Popcorn Kernel Award Goes to…savanna gold popcorn

After taste testing 20 different popcorn kernel types, product reviewer Wayne Schmidt decided that Savanna Gold by Fireworks was the overall best popcorn kernel.

According to Schmidt, Savanna Gold popcorn looks beautiful and it has a pleasing texture.  Savanna Gold isn’t too crunchy, but it isn’t too soft either.  Additionally, Savanna Gold was also one of the best popping popcorns that Schmidt reviewed.  It makes satisfying, loud noises when you cook it over a stove.

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6 Easy, Creative Ways to Add Flavor to Your Popcorn

Even though a few important subtle texture differences may exist, most popcorn generally tastes the same.  

So what can you do to add some flavor to your popcorn– other than pile on butter and sprinkle in salt?  

If you’re in search of ways to improve the flavor of dry popcorn, here are 6 creative toppings you should try.

  1. Hurricane popcorn.  This popcorn recipe is a favorite in Hawaii.  To make this exotic style of popcorn, all you need is popcorn, butter, a dash of soy sauce and a Japanese seasoning called nori furikake.  Mix it all together and you’ve got hurricane popcorn. Optionally, add in some mochi to give the mix an extra crunch.
  2. Chili powder and sea salt.  Sea salt is made by evaporating ocean water.  It contains more trace vitamins and minerals than normal salt– and it tastes great, too.  Sprinkle some sea salt on your popcorn and discover the difference yourself.  Add in some chili powder if you’re a fan of spicy food.
  3. Dark chocolate shavings and cinnamon.  In the mood for something sweet?  Try sprinkling some cinnamon and chocolate shavings on top of your popcorn.  Just a slight dusting will transform an ordinary pile of popcorn into a healthy, low calorie dessert.
  4. Parmesan cheese.  Parmesan cheese doesn’t contain a lot of calories, but it does have a distinctive taste that pairs well with popcorn.  Add a few drops of olive oil and sprinkle in some fresh pepper to add even more flavor.
  5. Hot sauce and pickle juice.  This combination sounds incredibly weird, but it actually tastes great.  The acid of the pickle juice enhances the taste of the hot sauce and the crunchy texture of the popcorn base brings all the flavors together.
  6. Trail mix.  Plain popcorn can be combined with just about any type of salty, crunchy snack food.  The dried fruit and nuts found in trail mix snacks contain many important vitamins and minerals– but don’t go too crazy.  Most trail mixes contain a lot of calories, too.

 

 
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