Who Put the “Gourmet” in Gourmet Popcorn? Here Are Five Utah Companies That Did.
By Lynn Blamires Content Writer for My Local Utah
The number one selling popcorn in the world is butter flavored. That probably has something to do with the large amount of popcorn that is sold in movie theaters. If you can identify with me, I go into the lobby of the movie theater with just short of enough time to get popcorn, a drink, and get to my seat before the movie starts. It is my turn, “What can I get you?” “Popcorn and a drink,” I say. “Bucket, tub, or barrel?” he asks. “Barrel,” I say. “You want butter on it?” “Yup.” And he takes this barrel over with both hands and puts it under this spigot from which gushes butter that washes over my popcorn. Is it gourmet popcorn? No, but it is mine, all mine and it might last through the whole movie if my drink is big enough.
No, it isn’t gourmet popcorn. Gourmet popcorn is to be savored and the flavors are made in small batches and created in the minds of the popcorn makers. A fun thing about gourmet popcorn makers is that each one has its own variety of flavors.
It is important to understand when popcorn is gourmet and when it isn’t. When it is manufactured in large quantities in a factory, it isn’t gourmet. Using the word, “regular,” when trying to describe popcorn misses the mark. Prepackaged or grocery store popcorn is a better way to refer to non-gourmet popcorn.
Popcorn you buy at a movie theater also is not gourmet popcorn. It is “buttered” popcorn using a combination of chemicals that give off a buttery taste and keep the popcorn from going soggy during the movie.
Now that we have talked about what gourmet popcorn is not, let’s talk about what it is. Gourmet popcorn is made from fine ingredients like Guittard chocolate from the Guittard Chocolate Company, the same that is used by fine chocolatiers like The Fudge Co. Without preservatives, gourmet popcorn is made in small batches and the flavors are only limited by the imagination of the maker. Here are some makers of gourmet popcorn and the flavors they have imagined –
The Popcorn Cottage
Grandparents started The Popcorn Cottage in 1971 and 12 kids have kept it going as a family business. Elsa Johnson is one of those twelve and manages the Layton store on the north side of the Layton Hills Mall. They also operate a larger store at the Valley Fair Mall in West Valley City.
Grandpa was a part of the KarmelKorn franchise. Fifty years ago when they decided to change their recipe, grandpa’s love of the old fashioned caramel flavor led him to branch out on his own, creating The Popcorn Cottage.
The Popcorn Cottage makes all their popcorn in small batches using copper kettles and a gas powered flame. This gives their popcorn a unique flavor not able to be duplicated at home. The popcorn kernels are popped in a rotating gas powered drum to give even heating and large kernels. All products are made to order. This ensures only the freshest popcorn ever leaves their store.
Here are some of their special gourmet flavors –
- Sour Cream and Onion – a sour cream and chives savory mix
- Bacon and Cheese – another savory mix of favorite flavors
- Orange cream – white chocolate blended with creamy orange flavors
- Vanilla, Rainbow, Butter Vanilla – now there is a mouthful that will melt sweetly in your mouth.
Check out their full selection at PopcornCottage.Square.site.
Lisa’s Passion for Popcorn
Lisa Call and her husband started Lisa’s Passion for Popcorn in 1984 in Kaysville next to the Kaysville Theater. It has changed hands a couple of times since then, but Lisa didn’t go very far – she now manages the Kaysville Theater.
They are currently offering 30 flavors on a rotating schedule to highlight the holidays featuring a flavor of the month. Their main store is on 27th South in Salt Lake.
I dropped in their Kaysville location with my wife and had a chance to talk to Cali Peters. She told me a little about Lisa’s. She has worked there for four years and she loves the people and the atmosphere.
I glanced over the flavors and my attention was drawn immediately to Coconut Macadamia Nut Popcorn. We left with a large size bag and I will tell you that I was not disappointed. I learned that their White Chocolate Popcorn is their #1 seller. Here are some of the other tempting flavors –
- Raspberry Dream Chocolate Popcorn – raspberry flavored white chocolate
- Mist Popcorn tastes like the real thing, it even fizzes on your tongue
- Blueberry Muffin Popcorn – sweet dough, and butter vanilla mixed. It’s more than blueberry – it’s a muffin-delight!
- Berries ‘n Crème Popcorn – Raspberry, blueberry, boysenberry, and vanilla flavorings join to make Berries ‘N Crème
Here are a few of the flavors that have been suggested to Lisa’s –
- Honey Sriracha – a sweet heat I could get into
- Butter–Finger – not a bad idea
- Salt and Vinegar – I sure go for that flavor in a potato chip
- Seaweed Wasabi – a bad idea (in my opinion).
Explore other flavors at LisaPopcorn.com.
Rooster’s Gourmet Popcorn
Rooster’s is located in the Fashion Place Mall Food Court and at 11400 South and Bangerter. Debbi Estrada explained to me that while many popcorn people use what is called “butterfly” popcorn describing the way the corn explodes when popped, Rooster’s uses a corn that pops into a mushroom shape. These Mushroom Popcorn kernels pop larger and produce firm, round pieces of popcorn with a bit of chewiness. Mushroom Popcorn is different from butterfly popcorn which is light and airy, and tends to pop into complicated shapes. I sampled Roosters Popcorn and the Mushroom Popcorn kernels are noticeably better.
Debbi went on to explain that they pride themselves in using high quality ingredients like Guittard chocolate and instead of using a powdered cheese like the kind used in boxed mac and cheese, they prefer a cheese paste blend that more effectively coats the popped corn. Debbi said that it is easy to taste the difference.
They feature 145 different amazing flavors, but their website is still under construction. While you can see what they offer, they ask that you contact them for accurate pricing and current availability. The website is RoostersGourmetPopcorn.com.
Yummy Sweets and Soda Shoppe
It seems like the popcorn business lends itself well as a family business. Such is the case with the Burt family. Their website tells the story of how the business transitioned from “Yummy Bubbles” to the Yummy Sweets and Soda Shoppe.
While the name covers the gamut of what they offer, you have to see it to believe it. “Yummy” includes gourmet popcorn, fudge, cupcakes, cotton candy and customizable sodas.
The popcorn flavor to first catch my eye is one called, “Betchacan’t.” They took the powder from the 5 spiciest peppers in the world, combined with their classic popcorn, and tumbled in Chipotle Tabasco sauce. That combination even scared the Burts so they threw some lime powder to dampen the fire. Here is the list of peppers they used to stoke the fire –
- Jalapeno Pepper
- Habanero Pepper
- Carolina Reaper Pepper
- Scorpion Pepper
- Ghost Pepper.
Trainwreck is specialty popcorn consisting of a rich salted caramel corn drizzled with dark chocolate, and white chocolate. You can find more information at MyYummySweets.com
Gary’s Gourmet Caramel Corn
Gary’s Gourmet Caramel Corn started as a favorite family treat and has grown into a family-owned and operated business. They started in 1991 with an original “soft” caramel flavor and now they have many gourmet caramel popcorn flavors. They also bottle their own gourmet caramel so you can enjoy warm caramel over your own desserts at home.
Located in Pleasant Grove, Gary’s has some assorted flavors that got my attention. Coconut Caramel for example is coconut caramel sauce mixed with sweet coconut and their gourmet popcorn for a go-to treat.
Huckleberry Popcorn Balls are a favorite summer treat for kids of all ages. Huckleberry flavored soft Caramel Corn features a pretty-purple color and a sweet, unique, berry flavor. Visit their website at GarysCaramelCorn.com
Well, there you have five gourmet popcorn places that can spark your interest in the world of popcorn treats. You can go online and find gourmet popcorn all over the country, but I like the idea of going into a store, meeting the people behind the counter and getting their take on favorite flavors. Now, go have your own adventure in the gourmet popcorn world.