The White Cheddar Popcorn Taste Test: We Tried 6 Brands and Here’s Our Favorite

updated May 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

White cheddar popcorn is a classic snack food; it’s airy yet crisp, with just the right balance of cheese, butter, and salt. We recently tasted some of the most widely available varieties of white cheddar popcorn at our office in New York City, and today we’re sharing our thoughts on each — as well as our favorite national brand. Want to see our top pick?

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

How We Selected the 6 Brands

I selected a variety of well-known national brands of white cheddar popcorn that can be found at most grocery stores across the country, skipping over any orange cheddar varieties. All the brands included were found at four major grocery stores in New York City.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

How We Set up the Blind Taste Test

I purchased six varieties of cheesy white cheddar popcorn, poured each bag into a bowl, assigned each one a letter, and lined the bowls up on a table.

As people dove into the popcorn, I asked everyone in the office to give me their thoughts on all six brands.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

The Taste Test Results

Cheesy popcorn seems like a simple and straightforward snack food, but the differences between the brands were surprising.

My officemates enjoyed the light flavor and texture of this popcorn. It had a taste that was mild and “not too cheesy,” which a lot of people liked. One person noticed that it had a good “buttery aftertaste.”

This was the only brand of the bunch I’d never seen before, and while the name led to a quirked eyebrow or two, I was totally impressed by the flavor. This popcorn had comparatively small kernels that were packed with cheesy flavor.

This variety had small kernels and a super-light texture compared to the other brands in the lineup. It had a cheesy taste that was described as “flavorful and subtle.” One person commented that it tasted like a “premium brand” — coincidentally it is the most expensive of the bunch.

This popcorn had large kernels and a solid flavor that made you want to go back for more. The cheesy flavor wasn’t quite as pronounced as some of the others in the lineup — some people even said it “tasted more like butter than cheddar.”

These popcorn kernels were larger than the others and had a good, firm bite. When it came to flavor, some officemates noted that it seemed “light on cheddar,” and one person even thought it tasted “kind of sweet.”

White Cheddar Popcorn: The Office Favorite

All of these brands came out well in our taste test (I mean, what’s not to love about cheesy popcorn?), but there was one that stood out as the favorite.

Not only was Smart Food the clear winner, but it also made the group nostalgic because it’s what many of us grew up with — this was the snack food that introduced most of us to cheddar popcorn. I even had one officemate who told me ahead of time that she loved Smart Food so much, she was sure she could identify it by sight and taste — and she did.

This popcorn has the cheesiest flavor of all the brands in the lineup; it’s like a cheddar explosion in your mouth, in the absolute best way possible. There’s also a really great balance between the cheese, butter, and saltiness.

Taste Tester Quotes on Our Favorite

  • The cheesiest!
  • It has the perfect balance of butter and cheddar.
  • My favorite by a landslide.
  • This has the most flavor.
  • It’s 100 percent Smart Food! It’s the best one.

Do you have a favorite brand of white cheddar popcorn? Any brand we missed that we have to try? Let us know in the comments!