Between movie nights at home, my kids' after-school cravings, and my nervous-energy snacking while I work, it's safe to say my family eats a lot of popcorn.
Usually I pop plain kernels in my trusty silicone popcorn popper. It's cheaper than (and just as fast as) the bags from the store, and I can control the sodium and flavorings, so I can legitimately call it a healthy snack. But sometimes we want the full-on faux-butter goodness you can only get from the movie theater — without actually going to the theater.
That's where the store-bought stuff comes in.
There are tons of options out there from various brands, with different levels of buttery-ness — plus other flavors like kettle corn and cheddar cheese. It's hard to know which ones to pick! What makes deciding really hard is that there's no guide to the butter levels. Is "extreme butter" more buttery than "movie theater style?" Where do "butter lovers" and "double butter" fit in the spectrum?
Clearly the only way to find out is to give them a try. I rounded up the butteriest options I could find, forgoing anything light or healthy, since I can easily do that at home, and skipping any oddball flavors.
Seven bags later, there was a clear winner: Jolly Time Blast O Butter Ultimate Theater Style.
Buy: Jolly Time Blast O Butter Ultimate Theater Style, $6 for six, 3.2-ounce bags
Why This Is the Only Popcorn I'll Buy
Unlike the other brands we tried — even those labeled "movie theater style" — this one actually tasted almost identical to actual movie theater popcorn, just not as greasy. It was in-your-face buttery, assertively salty, and really hard to put down. Luckily, the 3.2-ounce bags are a fraction of the size of the tubs you get at the theater, so we could keep our gluttony in check.
I fully expected the sodium and fat to be off the charts compared to the less flavorful ones we tried, but the numbers were actually almost identical. This stuff is even made with non-GMO corn. But it does have artificial flavor. And if you're looking for a healthy snack, keep looking. The fat and salt levels in most of these super-buttery popcorns is akin to a small serving of fries.
Or make your own: How To Make Microwave Popcorn in a Plain Paper Bag
Side note: If you were terrorized 10 years ago by news stories about microwave popcorn causing "popcorn lung," fear not. None of the brands on the market these days contain diacetyl, the chemical that can cause the respiratory disease.
What's your go-to microwave popcorn when you want something to rival the stuff at theaters?