The biggest downside to popcorn is keeping it fresh. Those popped kernels tend to absorb moisture like a sponge, and can quickly go stale.
I was recently given a free variety-pack sample of popcorn from the Rocky Mountain Popcorn Company. It's a Colorado-based company that's been in the gourmet popcorn business for 20+ years, but which has just recently begun to distribute their product nationally.
Rocky Mountain describes its popcorn as "real: it’s light, fresh, crisp and big... just like the mountains themselves. We find the biggest, moistest kernels we can, and only hot-air pop them. Rocky Mountain Popcorn is honest: it’s delicately coated with natural flavors, not smothered with pretentious-sounding hoo-ha. You won’t find corn syrup or partially hydrogenated anything in Rocky Mountain Popcorn."
With allowances for advertising "puffery" (no pun intended), this is genuinely good popcorn. The flavors - "naked" (plain), cinnamon sugar, white cheddar, caramel, butter, jalapeno, and kettle corn - hit the mark, and the foil packaging kept the popcorn fresh-tasting and crunchy.
I'm a hothead, flavorwise, so I went for the jalapeno. These had more of a jalapeno-cheese flavor than straight jalapeno, but they had a nice kick - not scorchingly hot, but enough to give the salivary glands a little workout.
My wife's and daughter's tastes run more toward the sweet end of the scale, and they've been happily munching on the caramel and kettle corn. The former has the classic flavor of caramelized sugar - no corn syrup here, just honest-to-god brown sugar - while the latter strikes the right balance of sweet and salty. There's no substitute for hot, fresh kettle corn, but this comes close. And we all like the butter flavor. Again, you can't beat freshly-popped corn with hot melted butter, but this was far better than the yellow styrofoam that you get in an average, mass-market bag of popcorn at the supermarket.
Speaking of which - at the moment, Rocky Mountain popcorn is currently available in New York mostly at "travel centers" (formerly known as truck stops). In our region, the Dansville Travel Centers of America and Petro in Waterloo both carry Rocky Mountain popcorn. You can also order it online, and this week you can get 35% off your order; go to RMPC's facebook page for more info.