The 10 Best Popping Corn

Updated May 14, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

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We spent 39 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. You don't have to wait for movie night or baseball season to enjoy a bowl or two of popcorn – it makes a great snack at any time. Our selection of popping corn includes varieties with a wide range of flavors and consistencies, and they are all a lot healthier and lower in calories than potato chips. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best popping corn on Amazon.

10. Hoosier Hill Farm Original White

The Hoosier Hill Farm Original White is slightly sweet, so it's good for kettle corn lovers trying to cut back on sugar. It's also high in antioxidants, with lots of naturally occurring anthocyanin. It doesn't pop completely white, but it is delicious.
  • adheres to toppings well
  • has a rich and complex fragrance
  • kernels are a bit small
Brand Hoosier Hill Farm
Model pending
Weight 4.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Bob's Red Mill White

Bob's Red Mill White is certified gluten free, has no added ingredients, and contains just 100 calories per serving, so it's ideal for health-conscious snackers. It has a light, clean flavor and won't leave you feeling too stuffed.
  • good for air poppers
  • stores well in the freezer
  • package isn't resealable
Brand Bob's Red Mill
Model pending
Weight 7.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Pop Secret Value Size

For those who prefer the microwaved stuff, the Pop Secret Value Size has kernels that tend to come out larger than most varieties, making them easier to grab when your eyes are on the screen. Each piece is buttery, but the flavoring won't leave your fingers too greasy.
  • includes 28 packs
  • instructions printed on each pouch
  • some find it a little too salty
Brand Pop Secret
Model 108927
Weight 6.7 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Franklin's Gourmet Movie Theater

Grown in Iowa and packaged in Wisconsin, each pack of Franklin's Gourmet Movie Theater includes premeasured portions of kernels, oil, and seasoning, which makes preparation fast and easy. It uses coconut oil, making the end result a bit healthier than some alternatives.
  • works well in electric poppers
  • not over-seasoned
  • tends to leave thick hulls behind
Brand Franklin's Gourmet Popc
Model pending
Weight 10.4 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Arrowhead Mills Organic White

The kernels in a pack of Arrowhead Mills Organic White are packed with dietary fiber and are a good source of thiamine and phosphorus as well, so you can feel better about eating bowl after bowl. Once popped, it can easily be made into popcorn balls.
  • six 24-ounce packs
  • certified kosher
  • a bit too chewy for some tastes
Brand Arrowhead Mills
Model pending
Weight 9.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. Great Northern Kettle

The Great Northern Kettle comes as a 24-pack of premeasured 8-ounce pouches to create a movie theater-style snack. For a slightly healthier take, the kernels are seasoned with butter-flavored salt instead of real butter, and cooked in coconut oil rather than canola.
  • made in the usa
  • works well in commercial poppers
  • packages are a bit hard to open
Brand Great Northern Popcorn
Model 4110 GAP 8OZ POPCORN
Weight 17 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Wabash Valley Farms

Wabash Valley Farms produces bowlfuls of crunchy kernels with smaller and fewer hulls than most, meaning it won't get stuck in your teeth as easily. Plus, if you follow the instructions, almost zero kernels will be left un-exploded in your popper.
  • beautiful purple color
  • crispy and tender
  • not certified organic
Brand Wabash Valley Farms
Model pending
Weight 2.1 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. Amish Country

This pack from Amish Country includes three 1-pound bags of all natural kernels in colors you may not have seen before. One is blue, one is red, and one is purple, and each produces a slightly different texture and flavor for you to experiment with.
  • actually tastes like corn
  • stays fresh all day once popped
  • good for patriotic occasions
Brand Amish Country Popcorn
Model 1
Weight 3.2 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet

From one of the most well-known names in the industry, the extra large 8-pound jug of Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet ensures it'll be a long time before you ever run out of kernels again. It's a good choice if you have a home movie theater that's in frequent use.
  • verified non-gmo
  • works well on stovetop poppers
  • pops large and fluffy
Brand Orville Redenbacher's
Model pending
Weight 8.4 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

1. Fireworks Variety Pack

The Fireworks Variety Pack delivers a total of ten 15-ounce containers of gourmet kernels with all types of flavors and consistencies. Each variety is naturally grown from heirloom seeds and can supply popcorn for 12 movie nights for two people.
  • contains no artificial dyes or gmos
  • great gift for a popcorn enthusiast
  • kernels keep well for a long time
Brand Fireworks Popcorn
Model pending
Weight 10.2 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

What Exactly Causes Popcorn to Pop?

There are several varieties of corn, and yet popcorn is the only type of corn that pops under extreme heat. Why is that? The answer is that inside of every popcorn kernel there exists a tiny droplet of moisture, far too minuscule to be seen by the naked eye. That moisture is protected by a hard-shell section of every kernel known as the hull.

As one or more popcorn kernels are heated, the moisture boils. This creates pressure inside the hull, increasing as the molecules scatter, based on the water turning into steam. Those molecules are the reason why you can see individual kernels of popcorn vibrating, or perhaps even jumping, just prior to the moment when they explode. That explosion results in a fresh, new piece of popcorn being born.

The more concentrated the heat, the quicker and more efficient the popping process will be. Take, for example, certain brands of popcorn that are sold inside a foil pan with an airtight hood that balloons as the contents are shaken over a flame. The foil cover helps to seal in the heat, and the intense shuffling encourages the pressurized kernels to explode. The same applies to cooking popcorn in a microwave, in that the radio waves zero in on beads of moisture, agitating every hull until it responds.

In both of these cases, there is a delicate balance between preparing a delicious bowl of popcorn, and overcooking the kernels. Popcorn can become charred if it is left cooking for even 1-2 minutes too long. The best advice is to turn off the heat as soon as the popping begins to taper. It is also important to maintain a vigilant eye throughout.

The Health Benefits of Eating Popcorn

If you are going to snack, you should snack healthily. While that often means replacing potato chips with a bowl of carrots or apple slices, the occasional bag of popcorn isn't such a bad choice. You might be surprised to learn that popcorn is lighter on your stomach than the majority of popular snack foods, for it isn't the kernel, but the added salt, butter, and other toppings that do your stomach little good.

Numerous studies have confirmed that a popcorn kernel's hull possesses a higher concentration of polyphenols than most fruits. Polyphenols promote strong tissue, while preventing the type of cellular deterioration that could eventually lead to heart disease, Alzheimer's Disease, liver disease, or cancer. Polyphenols are also a form of antioxidant, which means they can provide the skin with a youthful glow.

Beyond that, popcorn nourishes the body by way of whole grains, many of which can stimulate the brain. Whole grains contain B vitamins, along with vitamin E, protein, certain minerals, and fiber. One cup of heated popcorn, for example, contains a little over one gram of fiber. Fiber-rich foods are proven to reduce a person's cholesterol, which, in turn, minimizes the risk of certain cardiovascular conditions, including diabetes, and arrhythmia.

The best way to benefit from eating popcorn is by purchasing a plain (or original) variety, and then adding any seasonings yourself. Cheese popcorn, buttered popcorn, or other novelty popcorns are sure to be high in cholesterol, sodium, and fat. Plain popcorn, by way of comparison, remains a positive source of nutrients throughout.

A Brief History of Popcorn

The earliest-known evidence of popcorn dates back to 3,600 B.C.E. This fluffy snack was heated manually over an open flame until the 19th century, at which point manufacturers began cooking the kernels over a stove and selling the resulting product in bags. Nineteenth-century bags of popcorn were referred to as pearls in England, and nonpareil throughout Europe.

The term popped corn was coined by Americans during toward the end of the 1800s. Popcorn was especially popular in the United States, particularly as a snack enjoyed at public events or carnivals. The prevalence of popcorn increased dramatically after a Chicago candy store owner named Charles Cretors invented the first automatic popcorn maker in 1885. Cretors' invention allowed users to make more popcorn, faster, and it also to include additives during the cooking process. By the 20th century, Cretors had deployed steam-powered popcorn carts throughout the streets of Chicago. Popcorn was so inexpensive to produce that the popcorn cart immediately became a sensation.

Popcorn continued to flourish throughout the Great Depression, given that the portions were cheap, and, therefore, anybody could afford them. At the height of World War II, the American Government began to ration the country's sugar supply. This led to a temporary drought of candy and confectionery production. Popcorn sales, meanwhile, proceeded to skyrocket nationwide.

By the 1950s, theater owners were making an increased profit thanks to installing standalone popcorn machines along the sidewalls of their lobbies. Twenty years after, Orville Redenbacher revolutionized the industry by introducing household oven poppers that could be heated over a kitchen stove. During the Reagan Era, compact microwaves enabled the American public to enjoy a family-sized helping of buttered popcorn directly out of the bag in three minutes or less. Today, Americans consume an estimated 17 million quarts of popcorn every year. Illinois has named popcorn its official state snack in honor of Charles Cretors.

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Last updated on May 14, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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