Popcorn might be over 4,000 years old, but within the last few years this ancient crop has done a whole lot of growing up. Forget forking out for plain, salt or sweet popcorn by the bucketload – popcorn has moved on from cinema confectionary stands and now lines the shelves of delicatessens and health food stores nationwide. It’s the latest food to be given the gourmet-treatment and now this new, modern popcorn is all about quality ingredients and unique flavours. From Worcester Sauce & Sun-dried Tomato to Cheese on Toast and Gin & Tonic, popcorn is experiencing the sort of flavour reinvention you’d imagine only Heston Blumenthal could be responsible for. But even Heston’s Salted Caramel popcorn for Waitrose seems pretty tame in comparison to the combinations dreamt up by Jonty White, founder of Portlebay Popcorn.
Hand-popped in Plympton, Portlebay Popcorn is about as artisan as it gets. And yet it is their clever twist on the familiar that really makes this small Devon-based company stand out from the (very competitive) crowd. All-natural seasonings and simple Penguin Classic style packaging set up the surprise inside: strong, often American-influenced, flavours with a crunchy, brittle texture unique to Kracklecorn. ‘More than almost any other snack, popcorn is basically made by nature – all we do is take a natural grain and pop it’ Portlebay Popcorn Actually they do a lot more than that, and the process of sprinkling raw cane sugar onto the corn as it pops is what makes Kracklecorn so very different from your average popcorn. It has a salty sweetness that’s unexpected in flavours such as Chilli and Lime or Orchard Wood Smoked Cheddar, although the range of straightforward sweet Cinnamon Swirl, Lemon Sherbet and Very Berry popcorn are safe for any sweet tooth to get high on.
There’s no denying the risks they’ve taken with flavour, and I must admit to finding the amount of sugar a little off-putting. Taste-wise it’s very hit and miss, and four packets down I’m still unconvinced about treating wasabi and cheese as a sweet. However, the strong flavours of Crispy Bacon and Maple Syrup are so unbelievably well-suited to popcorn it’s only a wonder it hasn’t been done before, and the simple pairing of American cane sugar with British seaside saltiness comes alive in Classic Kracklecorn.
Find your flavour at: http://www.portlebaypopcorn.com/