Delicacies of Dallas: Caramel Corn

On our first night here (in Dallas) we had to stop at Patty’s local grocery store to pick up some essentials (Diet Coke, Diet Coke, ice cream, Diet Coke). As we were waltzing down the aisles, something caught our eye. Readers of IPB Proper may remember that we have a bit of a habit of impulse buying strange foods when we find ourselves in grocery stores while on vacation. In Buffalo, it was mochi. In Dallas, it was Orville Reddenbacher’s Caramel corn.

Patty was shocked that we didn’t have this particular item in New Jersey. I suspect its sphere of influence includes NJ, it’s just not part of our daily sphere of concern. And for that reason, neither of us could say no to trying it out. I mean, it’s microwave popcorn that has scads of prep instructions!

It should be noted that we were both recently struck with a completely-out-of-the-blue craving for microwave popcorn. Picking over the options at our grocery store, we selected Newman’s Own Butter Boom.

While it wasn’t half-bad — the flavor was good at first but lingered with a nasty aftertaste, and the overall consistency was rubbery — it also wasn’t so good that we felt like it was worth trying again. Evidently, we were wrong. After a bit of a microwave mishap and one bag of burnt popcorn left on the back porch to cool down, we had a bowl of fluffy white (probably rubbery) popcorn. And we had a packet of caramel. Pardon me, a “caramel flavored wafer”. The scads of instructions said to the wafer in fourths…

… And then place the resulting pieces strategically atop the popcorn…

… And then microwave it again to get the caramel wafer “bubbly and frothy”.

I’m not sure this is the very picture of “bubbly and frothy”, but it was melted enough for the next step — stirring with heat proof spoons. Patty tried to throw Schnookie off her game by shouting, “Don’t use those wooden spoons! They’ll catch fire!” But even that bit of kitchen tomfoolery didn’t keep Schnookie from stirring that popcorn-caramel concoction like a pro.

The ten minutes spent waiting for it to cool were tense and anxious. Would the popcorn be a better or worse culinary experience than the mochi? Were the off-putting aromas coming from the bowl a preview of the taste? Was the time and trouble spent making the treat utterly misspent? There was only one way to find out.

Initial reaction? Not bad! Certainly better than expected. Schnookie said it best when she said, shocked, “It’s like… caramel corn!” I’m sure Orville’s relieved we won’t sue them for false advertising. But seriously, our expectations were so low, the fact that it did briefly resemble caramel corn is a huge point in its favor. The fact that it hardened too much, too fast is a point against. The caramel was stronger than the popcorn, making it very, very difficult to pull the kernels apart. After settling some more, the caramel took on less of a caramel-y flavor and more of a toffee. Which is not a bad thing. The popcorn itself still had the rubbery microwave popcorn problem, but the coating of caramel/toffee/chemicals covered it up. All in all, it was a fun thing to try and to eat most of, but not a culinary endeavor worth repeating. So endeth our momentary infatuation with microwave popcorn.

The final review is: Microwave Caramel Popcorn – .5 stars, Mochi – negative 100 stars.

Update: 30 minutes after we finished the popcorn it became clear that it was… not a good idea. Not a good idea at all.

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14 Comments

Filed under On The Road, Slumming It, Taste Test

14 responses to “Delicacies of Dallas: Caramel Corn

  1. I think it is interesting that the caramel packet pretty much resembles mochi. Did you cut your mochi with scissors too?

  2. hg

    I remember Grand-HR and Grand-HRdad bringing back this same popcorn from Arizona when I was younger and I too was so excited to make it. I think because I was smaller, I loved it beyond belief. But then again, any food from THE STATES was exciting. Especially when you’re 11.

  3. Mochi cannot be cut with mere scissors. I’m pretty sure we needed to get the Sword of Mochidom to cut that stuff. *shudder*

    HG, that’s so funny! I can imagine that if you’re 11, this stuff would rock. Particularly if it came from a foreign country.

  4. HG, Pookie and I were discussing the “from another country” phenomenon today, and we both agreed that this popcorn would have been WILDLY delicious if it had come from Canada.

  5. hg

    I love food from other countries! Granted my experience is limited but I still enjoy it. I think we should send care packages of foreign food to each other! Hahahaha! I can send you Cheezies and Smarties!

  6. That’s a great idea, HG! And we can send you… um… some of this delicious caramel corn?

  7. hg

    I don’t have a microwave so I’d just sit and look at it if you did… Or you could make it and send it along!

  8. Wow, I think the caramel would be so awesome prepared and then sent in the mail for a week!

  9. I’ve been off the microwave popcorn ever since someone in our office put up a sign warning us about Popcorn Lung. Even though it’s the workers that get it and not the eaters, I felt like I couldn’t breathe reading the symptoms.

    I’m sure the caramel counteracts the possibility of Popcorn Lung. LOLS.

  10. I’m embarrassingly late in reading all this. I knew you had taken all those pictures, but I was watching for it over on IPB!

    HG, Pookie and I were discussing the “from another country” phenomenon today, and we both agreed that this popcorn would have been WILDLY delicious if it had come from Canada.

    The state travel motto is:
    Texas: It’s like a whole other country.

    So, it’s kind of food from another country!

  11. William

    So, to start off, I have dyslexia. I was looking through my father’s pantry. I saw a box of (although I don’t remember the brand, I’m pretty sure it was Pop Secret) “Kettle Corn” with only one packet left in it. Once I got back to the room, opened the microwave, and picked up the packet, I noticed that it was a bit oddly shaped. I looked at it, then looked to the box, and noticed it said “Caramel Corn.” So, I had a Caramel falvoured wafer, and no popcorn. I figured It wouldn’t taste bad, and I love caramel, so I went for it. I opened it up, and as I was expecting some kind of actual caramel, but out comes a dark brown paste.

    I can’t say it’s bad. It actually tastes more like butterscotch, or… something nutty, It’s hard to explain. Again, not bad, though. I’ve had caramel corn before, but I was wondering, has anyone had this same kind of from-a-box caramel corn? Did it actually taste like caramel?

  12. William

    Oh, and now that I’m a good bit into it, I’m starting to get that waxy, plasticy feel I read about.

  13. William, I’m sorry you had the experience we did — not half-bad at first but then the waxy, plasticy feel comes in. I think the fact that there was a wafer left in the box from when someone decided the popcorn was better off without is probably a sign to heed next time! :D

  14. Takis Manthos

    Ouf re Taki teliewsa kai m’auto.
    -Gia tipragma milas?
    -Na xrwstousa kai tin teleutaia dosi tou daneiou mou
    kai den mporousa na vrw lusi.
    Eutixws h gunaika mou eixe kapoia kosmimata pou den ta
    forouse kai mou eipe na ta poulisoume.
    Pragmati ta peira, peiga sto enexyrodanistirio sto
    k Spyropoulo Kolokotroni 9 sto Syntagma kai ta
    diapragmateutika.
    Etsi kai kala leuta peira kai ti dwsi kseplirwsa kai
    mou emeine kai kati.
    Twra eimai kala…

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