Monday, October 13, 2014

Product Review: A Plethora of Peculiar Popcorns

Bags of Kernel Encore popcorn
More bags of popcorn Still more bags of popcorn

It's October, the season of goblins and ghouls, and so it's probably a fitting time to resurrect this zombie of a blog.

Honestly, for the past too-many months, I've been too tired and too busy to bake much at all, let alone new stuff I haven't blogged about yet. Pregnancy will do that to you, apparently. But today, I had the opportunity to try a whole bunch of interesting popcorns courtesy of Kernel Encore, so I thought I'd share my thoughts. (Full disclosure: All of the popcorn was provided for free, but it was given with no expectation of a good review or even any review at all.)

I had the opportunity to choose from a dizzying array of flavors, from the typical (caramel, cheddar, and the like) to the downright odd (like beer, cheesecake, and pizza). I was given one bag, but I ended up being offered samples from a few others, too, so I could get a good idea of their range of flavors and the quality of their product.

Maple popcorn

Here are my thoughts on the flavors I tried:

An array of popcorn samples Garlic Parmesan: The flavor of this one was a bit subtle overall, but it had a nice, genuine garlic flavor without being too pungent, and the saltiness of the Parmesan, while muted, was a nice backdrop. The earthiness of the garlic definitely complimented the flavor of the popcorn itself quite nicely.
Pumpkin Pie: It's so hard to get the flavor of pumpkin pie right in anything that's not, well, pie, and this flavor was about par for the course as far as pumpkin-flavored foods go. It was very gingery with a little bit of clove to keep it from being too astringent. It also tasted a little bit candied and artificial.
Salsa & Queso: This flavor was probably the biggest disappointment flavor-wise. It lacked either the brightness of actual salsa or the sharpness or creaminess of cheese; it was pretty bland overall.
Dark Chocolate Drizzle: Oddly, this variety suffered texturally more than anything else. While the dark chocolate flavor was quite nice, with just a hint of saltiness to perk up the flavor, the popcorn itself was a tad stale.
Bananas Foster: The flavor of this one was overwhelmingly that of banana-flavored candy, rather than a true banana, mixed with a hint of rum in the background.
Maple: I'd hoped that this one would taste like grade B syrup, but instead, the maple flavor was rather subdued. It didn't have that cloying pancake-syrup flavor, but the overall impression was a little bit like French toast and a little bit like your standard caramel corn, just slightly different.

Would I spend any of my own money on these? It depends. I'm not a huge buyer of flavored, pre-popped popcorn, but if I was out in a store somewhere and came across, say, the garlic Parmesan flavor, I might pick some up if I was in the mood for it. I did feel, though, that some of these flavors would've benefited from an extra mix-in: The maple, for instance, would've really stood out if it was maple-pecan instead. That said, with their wide variety of flavors and their different packaging options, these would probably make a really cool and unique wedding or party favor for popcorn enthusiasts.