Just Poppin Mushroom Popcorn Kernels

For the longest time I’ve had a question bouncing around in the back of my mind: Why is it that the kettle/caramel/flavored popcorn you buy from small shops and stands always come out perfectly round instead of all haphazard-shaped like the stuff you pop in the microwave? I figured it must’ve been something to do with the way they were popping it, some special technique or trade secret — but after finally getting around to doing a little research, I discovered that they’re actually just using a different type of kernel. 🤯

The popcorn you buy at movie theaters or grocery stores is known as butterfly popcorn, while the fluffy round kind is known as mushroom popcorn. The reason mushroom kernels are used for candied popcorn is that they have more surface area to handle all that coating, rather than fragile “wings” that would smoosh or break off under the weight.

Left: Butterfly popcorn (photo by Joelle Nebbe-Mornod)Right: Mushroom popcorn (photo by Daniel Sotirhos)

Left: Butterfly popcorn (photo by Joelle Nebbe-Mornod)

Right: Mushroom popcorn (photo by Daniel Sotirhos)

If nothing else, they have an awesome, chewy texture that, to me, is more fun to eat.

There’s a company called Just Poppin that takes popcorn pretty seriously. Their whole business started with only selling mushroom popcorn online, a little over two decades ago. As such, I recommend picking up a bag of their mushroom popcorn so you can recreate that “gourmet” experience for yourself at home, and maybe experiment with your own flavor concoctions.

They’ve got a few sizes to choose from:

  • 2 lb bag ($12) — Costs more than the 3-pound option, but at least they offer Prime shipping for this one?
  • 3 lb bag ($10)
  • 5 lb bag ($17)