If you venture into stores now, you know you're likely to see big holiday tins full of flavored popcorn all over the place now. Likely, you've received a few over the years. Odds are, you've given a few, too. Popcorn is a pretty safe gift choice, because most people enjoy it, right? But the stuff in the stores is probably months old (if not years), made with poor quality corn and the seasonings are the same chemical stew you'll find in your average processed junk food package.
Fancy Pop Organic Popcorn elevates that same old boring and listless gift choice into something delicious and decadent. All ingredients are organic and gluten-free and are the same fine quality items you would use in your homemade holiday goodies. It isn't run through factory machinery, but made by hand, and the difference is obvious with every flavorful bite.
Honestly, I didn't expect that to be the case - my experience with popcorn is that it is addictive in the movie theater or freshly popped and hot at home, but cold, pre-flavored popcorn tasted like coated styrofoam, and sometimes was so dry and stale it made me choke. So, when I took on this review, I enlisted my husband to help me taste it, just in case my general level of 'meh' made it impossible to give it an objective review.
I kind of regret that, because every bite he ate was one I didn't get to eat, and this stuff is fantastic!
I received four 2 oz. bags of loose popcorn to try (Cinnamon Bun, Caramel, Caramel Chocolate and Barbecue), along with one Caramel Chocolate Popcorn Pop. The bags are two servings worth and are resealable, but if you're sharing you won't need that feature.
In each case, as I opened the bag, a rich freshly-made scent burst out of the bag - something I have never experienced with pre-made popcorn before! That said, Fancy Pop is not your run of the mill chemically preserved purchased popcorn - don't put this away to eat in a few months, or even a few weeks. Like all homemade confections, this is best enjoyed while it is fresh.
The first flavor we tried was Caramel. The popcorn had a light crispy snap, and then a rich chewiness - it was popped to perfection, lightly coated with a caramel glaze, and then drizzled with a delicious caramel drizzle, so that with each bite, there would be a little burst of creamy caramel tucked down into the crevices of the popcorn pieces. The buttery quality of good caramel was very apparent - frankly, if you handed me a bowl of this and told me you'd just made it yourself an hour earlier, I wouldn't even question your sincerity at all. Except for one tiny thing - there were no unpopped or half popped kernels in the bag. Just rich caramel, buttery popcorn and perfection.
Michael's first comment was "This is SO MUCH better than Cracker Jack!" (and he's a big fan of Cracker Jack) We were both a little sad when it was gone.
We kept our tastings for one a day, because this stuff is rich. It is most definitely not the sort of treat you munch on without thinking about it, but rather something to be savored and appreciated.
So, the second day, I kept half of the Cinnamon Bun Fancy Pop, and sent the rest to work with Michael for a mid-afternoon snack. After having tried the first one, our expectations were a lot higher, and yet it exceeded them. I think this is my favorite (a hard thing to say when everything is so good).
You know that place in the mall that makes ridiculously huge cinnamon buns? The first bite is so delicious, but then it just becomes a marathon to try to eat the thing, so (if you're me) you avoid the whole thing because no one needs a half a million calories of dough. This. This let me experience that insanely delicious treat again, without any of the regret!
Here again, the popcorn is a perfectly popped bite with a nice fresh snap to it that melts into chewy goodness. The kernels are coated in a thin layer of cinnamon glaze and then drizzled with white chocolate. Again, the drizzle means that you get little bursts of creamy richness which I found much more satisfying than wallowing through a ton of goo. Perfect, just perfect.
By day three, we were thoroughly spoiled by the sweet decadence we'd tasted so far, so we switched over to savory Barbecue. Let me preface by saying that this was still much better than the average savory pre-made popcorn, but it was our least favorite of the ones we tried.
Rather than having a good amount of glaze, the spices seemed to be more of a dry dusting, and to me tasted 'raw' - that is, when you cook with spices, you need some good fat included to wake up the flavors so they don't taste like spices straight from the jar - and that's what barbecue sauce does. This seemed more like a barbecue spice rub before it's been cooked. A mixture of butter and brown sugar was used, but again in a more drizzled fashion, but I wish it had been more, and in this case it didn't work so well for me. Had their been more creamy butter, I'd have been totally sold.
If I'd not already experiences the other flavors, I doubt I would have noticed, but this was the only one I didn't fervently wish I had more of. Even so, for those who enjoy savory seasoned popcorns, this is a much better option than anything you'll find mass produced and my issues are a matter of personal preference, not quality.
Day Four, and we were back to sweet tooth satisfying deliciousness. The Caramel Chocolate Fancy Pop is ridiculously rich, and the sweetest of the bunch. A good solid caramel glaze and bits of caramel sauce, drizzled with a good bit of dark chocolate made this push the same taste buttons as a good adult chocolate candy confection would. It was the only one where the drizzle was soft enough that I had to lick my fingers after I ate it. It was also the only bag that was so rich that we though we should have divided it up into four portions rather than two.
I loved this so much, and it is only the incredible delightfulness of the Cinnamon Bun Fancy Pop that kept it in my number one slot.
So, Day Five was like an encore of goodness - the same delicious Caramel Chocolate flavor in a beautifully made popcorn ball pop on a stick! Now, I tend to have a difficult time biting into big balls of anything - I slice my apples instead of biting into them whole - but I'd already announced I was not sharing my Caramel Chocolate Popcorn Pop.
I took a big bite (with my usual difficulty), let my eyes roll back in my head from the wonderful taste... then caught sight of Michael wistfully looking my way and let him have the rest. He took one bite, pulled out the stick, and handily ate the rest. Darn it! If I'd thought to pull out the stick it could have been mine, all mine!
As you can see, this time, the chocolate is a thick coating on top of the ball - delicious and pleasing to look at. And because they come individually wrapped, these would make perfect tuck ins with other presents or peeking out of a stocking on Christmas morning.
In case you haven't figured it out, I am a total Fancy Pop fan. These are just a few of the Sweet and Savory flavors available, and they have several corporate as well as individual gift packages to select from. They also do favors for special occasions.
Fancy Pop Gourmet Popcorn Website: http://www.fancypop.net
Fancy Pop on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/organicfancypop
Right now, there is still time to order some Fancy Pop Organic Gourmet Popcorn for Christmas, and they've included a great special for our readers:
For any purchase of $20 or more, using the code "popsgift", you will also receive FOUR Caramel Chocolate Popcorn Pops!!
This makes for a tremendous value!
Additionally, Fancy Pop is letting us host a giveaway of the same four 2 oz. bags of popcorn in a pretty gold holiday tin tied with a red bow, valued at $25.00 for one lucky winner in the continental US. (Don't forget, you can also buy one of these gift tins, filled with the flavors of your choice here, as well - and get use the code above to get four pops, too!)
This giveaway is open to Continental US RESIDENTS only and will end just before midnight ET on 12-22.
The winner will be notified by email within 24 hours after the end of the giveaway. In order to claim the giveaway prize, the winner will need to respond within 24 hours of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected.
Good luck everyone!
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