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.