A Naysayer No More: Gourmet Microwavable Popcorn

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It seems like everywhere I turn there's a new "hand-crafted" food gracing store shelves or farmers market booths. These words and phrases have become quick and easy marketing speak, a necessity for small food businesses to woo new customers. Sometimes this can get confusing and even a little onerous, which is what I initially thought when I saw Quinn popcorn on store shelves a few weeks ago. I mean, do we really need gourmet microwavable popcorn? I'm here to tell you that we, in fact, we do.

When I was in college I used to make pretty standard microwavable popcorn. You could buy the single bags at the little market attached to the dining hall and I'd bring it back to my dorm room and get the microwave all geared up. Today we occasionally pop our own popcorn on the stovetop and sprinkle it with just a little sea salt and a drizzle of warm butter or olive oil. It's an upgrade, to be sure. But not as big of an upgrade as gourmet popcorn like Quinn.

If you're skeptical, I was at first, too. It's more expensive than other store-bought products and there are only two bags to a box. But, like most things, you get what you pay for. Inside of a box of Quinn, you'll find a few packets accompanying the bag of actual popcorn: one for the oil, and one for the special seasoning packet. While it seemed like a lot of oil to me at first, I made the popcorn using the advised instructions and it couldn't have been more delicious. It's fragrant, not at all oily to the touch, and the innovative flavors make it feel like a very special treat. My favorite so far has been the Vermont Maple and Sea Salt with a close second swept by the Hickory and Smoked Cheddar. While I've tried to curb the habit, I find myself tossing a box into the grocery cart more often than I'd care to admit. 

Do you make your own popcorn on the stovetop, buy the been-around-since-we-were-kids boxes, or splurge at the store on a gourmet brand? 

(Images: Quinn's Popcorn)

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Megan is a freelance writer, recipe developer and cookbook writer. Her first book, Whole-Grain Mornings, (Ten Speed Press) is available in bookstores nationwide. Megan also owns the Seattle-based artisan cereal company, Marge Granola.

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