A close up of two red and white cartons of movie popcorn for an ingredient article about new popcorn flavors in beverages and desserts


In 2007, popcorn received a bad rap because of its link to lung disease driven by Diacetyl, the ingredient found in microwave popcorn to create the buttery aroma and taste. At the time, popcorn manufacturers responded and reformulated their recipes, but the ingredient continues to be used in the food industry. Most recently, Diacetyl made headlines for being linked to Alzheimer’s disease from a study by the Center for Drug Design at the University of Minnesota. Even with the negative press, popcorn is a mainstay, beloved snack and movie staple. According to The Popcorn Board, “Americans consume 16 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually.” October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month and the sweet kernel is popping up in new applications, intriguing gourmet savory flavors, sophisticated desserts, specialty shops, and alcoholic beverages.

Latest InnovationsOrville Redenbacher’s newest product innovation is the Pop Up Bowl, which highlights a bag- to-bowl microwave design that stands up and resembles an old school movie popcorn package with red and white stripes. It’s available in three flavors – Sea Salt & Vinegar, White Cheddar, and Extra Cheese. Flavor Singles is another new application from Orville Redenbacher. The microwave popcorn comes with a flavor packet that enables users to sprinkle as much or as little extra flavor on their popcorn. Newcomer Quinn Popcorn formulated a compostable, microwavable popcorn bag made with a special pressed paper to make it grease proof. The company uses organic and GMO free popcorn and the package includes two flavor pouches, one with dried seasoning and one with expeller pressed oil formulated to be used after the popcorn is made. Quinn Popcorn is offered in three flavors – Parmesan & Rosemary, Vermont Maple & Sea Salt, and Lemon & Sea Salt.

Traditional, individual popped corn kernels continue to dominate the market, but popcorn chips are emerging as the newest product form. Pop Corners are popped corn chips with a witty tagline “The New Shape of Popcorn” and Kellogg’s recently introduced Special K Popcorn Chips in two flavors Butter and Sweet and Salty, which are baked instead of fried and are described as having “a unique crunch and texture.” Halfpops are partially popped popcorn available in two flavors Butter & Pure Ocean Sea Salt and Aged White Cheddar.

Gourmet Flavor Twists…Houston’s POParazzi’s Popcorn offers 200+ flavors categorized in eight segments – Breakfast, Appetizers, Fruits & Sweets, Snacks, Entrees, Desserts, Drinks and Healthy Choices. Some of the most intriguing new savory flavors include Babe Back Ribs & Beer, Fried Pickles, Bacon & Cheese, Chili Cheese Dawgs, Flamin’ Hot Fries and Ravioli. Bacon, Cheese & Ranch, Chili, and Taco are a few recent introductions from PopOLicious in Illinois. Maryland Crunch Daddy launched in the beginning of 2012 and offers a variety of unusual flavor combinations such as Sesame & Ginger Crunch and White Cheddar & Horseradish Crunch. The company’s newest launches include Maryland Crab Feast Crunch, which uses Chesapeake Bay seasoning, apple cider vinegar and sea salt, Bombay Market Crunch, which features masala (an Indian spice blend) with over 15 different herbs, spices, dried fruits and salts, Peanut Butter & Jelly Crunch, and Simply Cinnamon Crunch. Another interesting line of unique flavored popcorn is 479 Popcorn. Named after the optimal temperature for popping corn, the company offers sophisticated gourmet flavors inspired from global ingredients such as Madras Curry Coconut + Cashews and Pimentòn de La Vera, which is handcrafted with smoky Spanish paprika.

Shop Till You Drop…Located in Seattle, Kukuruza, which means “corn” in Russian, opened its second gourmet popcorn store. Its most recent seasonal flavor is Pumpkin Spice Pecan. The newest specialty popcorn shop Populence in NYC’s West Village debuted in July 2012 and specializes in “artisanal popcorn with seasonal flavors made from fresh whole ingredients sourced locally, which uses heirloom non-GMO and organic ingredients to support local, sustainable farms.”

Popcorn Inspires Drink Flavors…Flavored vodka continues to take its cues from popular sweet and savory foods and buttered popcorn is one of the newest flavors. 360 and Georgi both recently unveiled Popcorn flavored vodkas. Sun King Brewery offers Popcorn Pilsner, a seasonal brew made from German Pilsner and two pounds of Indiana grown popcorn per keg, available only in June. A noteworthy non-alcoholic drink is David’s Tea Movie Night, which blends green tea, apple, and popped corn.

On The Dessert MenuPopcorn is appearing on dessert menus nationwide. NYC’s Le Bernardin features Chocolate- Popcorn crafted with Madagascan chocolate ganache, candied peanuts, and popcorn ice cream while La Silhouette offers Popcorn Crème Brûlée made with candied apples, caramel popcorn, and salty caramel whipped cream. A popular dessert from Austin’s Swift’s Attic is Popcorn & A Movie, which combines buttered popcorn gelato, house made chocolate candy, rootbeer syrup and caramel popcorn. Popcorn Ice Cream Sundae with house made Cracker Jacks is on Canoe’s dessert menu in Atlanta while Trummer’s on Main in Virginia has a Popcorn Ice Cream with caramel corn, sable cookie, and P.B. powder.

Smell It…For those that like the smell of popcorn, but don’t want the extra calories, there’s Pop Secret Lip Balm with a buttered popcorn flavor, Clown Toots nail polish by Wonder Beauty Products, which is carnival inspired with “yummy underlying scents of buttered popcorn, cotton candy and bubblegum” or Movie Hot Buttered Popcorn candle by USA Soy Candles.

Watch as this beloved salty and sweet treat pops up in new gourmet flavor combinations, new applications and alternative flavor and fragrance segments.

Craving a treat? Let Trendincite custom-design a finger licking sweet and salty trend excursion to explore unique sweet and savory flavor combinations.

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