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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Product Review: Popcorn, Indiana

Yes, popcorn is trendy right now. But it's also been with us for a long time. Like most of us who got taught the legendary version of American history, I always thought that the Pilgrims got turned on to it by the local natives, but apparently there's a huge debate over its origins, and maybe it wasn't on the table at the first Thanksgiving. But we can safely say that the popcorn we know and love today goes back to the late 19th century.
Anyway, as the popcorn wars heat up like a well-oiled pan on the stove, producers are looking for a way to stand out from the crowd. Popcorn, Indiana's latest entry is Movie Theater Popcorn, which comes popped, so you can eat it right out of the bag, but which can also be heated, in the bag, in a microwave, for that fresh-popped movie theater taste. One advantage over ordinary microwave popcorn is the absence of a bunch of unpopped kernels in the bottom of the bag, plus you can start munching on these even before you get home from the store.
I was recently sent a sample bag, and it didn't last long in my house. Straight out of the bag, at room temperature, this was good popcorn, with a nice crunch and a good butter/salt balance. Nuked for a minute in the microwave, it really was reminiscent of classic, "theater" popcorn.
Now that may or may not be to your taste. Popcorn snobs (and I'm sure there are popcorn snobs) probably look down at any version of movie-theater popcorn. For those folks, Popcorn, Indiana offers other varieties, from the minimalist Touch of Sea Salt Popcorn to the flavor-packed Bacon Ranch variety. I'd be happy with either; the sea salt popcorn allowed the subtle flavor of the popped kernels to come through, but I'm also into interesting seasonings and flavor combinations, and I liked the bacon ranch flavor too. It had a more restrained flavor than I'd expected, with a subtle bacony smokiness and some background lactic tang. My wife and daughter didn't care for it, but we agreed that if you're the sort of person to whom bacon ranch popcorn sounds appealing, you'll probably like it. If not, you won't.
Popcorn, Indiana is widely available, and can be found locally at Walmart, BJ's, Sam's Club, Walgreens, and Bed Bath & Beyond. It makes for a convenient, tasty accompaniment for an evening at home with a good DVD, for a true movie-theater experience without the sticky floors or a stranger's knees pressing into the back of your chair.

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