Popcorn isn't merely a snack; it's an experience. And as with any memorable adventure, the details can make important differences. The world of popcorn kernels is as diverse as it is delightful, offering an array of sizes, shapes, and hues—each with its own distinct characteristics. Consider this your invitation to explore, to experiment, and to elevate your popcorn game. Who knows? You might just stumble upon a new favorite that transforms your snacking experience. Happy exploring!
Before we dive in, let's talk shapes. As we will mention below, popcorn comes in two main shapes: mushroom and butterfly (or snowflake as we prefer). Each shape has its own unique characteristics that make it best suited for different uses.
Mushroom Popcorn Shape
Mushroom popcorn is the hero of the caramel and cheese popcorn world. These kernels pop into large, spherical shapes that look like mushrooms! Firm with a chewy texture, mushroom popcorn can stand up to heavy coats of oozy seasonings like caramel in a way snowflake shapes just can’t. For the best popping results, scout out a high-smoke point oil and crank up the heat.
Butterfly or Snowflake Shape
The butterfly, or snowflake shape, is what you'll often find in your classic movie theater popcorn. These kernels pop into intricate, wing-like shapes that are perfect for trapping butter and salt in their nooks and crannies. The texture is lighter and fluffier compared to mushroom popcorn, making it ideal for those who love a melt-in-your-mouth experience and more dusty seasonings. Just like its mushroom counterpart, butterfly popcorn also benefits from a high-smoke point oil, but it's a bit more forgiving on the temperature scale.
Yellow Popcorn Kernels
Yellow popcorn kernels are the classic stars of the popcorn world, best known to be used in classic movie theatre popcorn. These kernels come in a variety of sizes, and the flakes are fluffy with a slightly chewy texture that's irresistibly satisfying. With it’s simple corn-forward flavor a bowl of yellow popcorn is a blank canvas perfect for any seasoning you can think of from classic butter & salt to cheddar or even a a chunky everything bagel mix. This variety can come in either snowflake or mushroom shapes.
We're proud to feature Petersen Farm Yellow Kernels in our Dusted lineup. Nestled in Utah, the Petersen Farm family is as passionate about popcorn as we are. They're committed to traditional farming methods, ensuring the highest quality flavor in every kernel.
Unleash your creativity with this versatile variety—truly, the sky's the limit! We're partial to Jacobsen Salt Co's Furikake seasoning, as these hearty kernels can handle a more robust blend. Or try out one of Rianna's favorites with our Desert Dust seasoning.
Meet the petite (mini!) and elegant Ladyfinger popcorn, a yellow variety of popcorn. These kernels pop up small and have a tender, almost hulless texture. The flavor is nutty and slightly sweet, making it ideal for snacking without any seasoning at all. The flake shape is predominantly snowflake, which holds up well to a variety of seasoning options. Due to it’s small size, this is not recommended for airpoppers.
White Popcorn Kernels
White popcorn is the connoisseur's choice for a lighter, more delicate popcorn experience. These kernels pop up smaller than their yellow counterparts but offer a tender, almost crispy texture. The flavor is subtly sweet, making it a versatile canvas for both savory and sweet seasonings. The flake shape can be either snowflake or mushroom, depending on the variety.
Calico or Rainbow Popcorn
Calico or Rainbow popcorn isn't a single variety, but instead a kaleidoscopic blend that we can't help but adore. Each kernel is a different hue, creating a vibrant mix that's as visually stunning as it is flavorful. Once popped, these kernels transform into a medley of yellow and white flakes, each with its own unique texture and taste. Expect tastes of nutty and sweet, textures of firm and tender, all in one bowl. The flake shapes also vary, so the mix can carry a number of different seasoning options. It's a Dusted favorite, not just for its diverse flavor & texture profile but also as a countertop showpiece that sparks conversation.
At Dusted, we offer two curated versions of this colorful blend—one from Petersen Family Farm and another from Amish Country. Each blend features a unique combination of the farm’s popcorn varieties, so why not try both to discover your personal favorite?
Use your imagination when pairing this variety! We love it so much we use this variety in our signature Spicy Ramen Popcorn Pack.
Red Popcorn Kernels
Red popcorn kernels bring a bit of flair to your countertop. They pop up white with a nuanced, nutty flavor and a texture that's a bit more robust than their white or yellow counterparts. The flakes are primarily snowflake-shaped and offer a satisfying crunch in every bite.
We're proud to feature Petersen Farm Red Kernels in our Dusted lineup. Nestled in Utah, the Petersen Farm family shares our popcorn passion and dedication to quality. Their commitment to time-honored farming techniques ensures that each kernel, ensuring the highest quality flavor in every kernel.
Blue Popcorn Kernels
Favored by popcorn aficionados for their subtly sweet, nutty undertones, these nturally blue kernels burst into petite flakes tinged with a soft blue-white hue. The flavor profile? Think of a roasted, almost earthy sweetness that pairs exceptionally well with minimalist seasonings - we recommend a simple sprinkle of salt.
But let's talk about that captivating blue. While it's all-natural in authentic varieties, be cautious—some brands artificially dye their kernels, often to command a higher price point. If you're steering clear of synthetic additives, keep your eyes peeled. The genuine article not only avoids harmful chemicals but also packs a nutritional punch. Specifically, blue popcorn is rich in anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant found in blue-hued foods, giving it an edge over its yellow and white counterparts.
For the best popping experience turn up the heat when popping on the stove - this variety thrives at higher temperatures.
Black Popcorn Kernels
Black popcorn is steeped in history, tracing its roots back to pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. This heirloom gem is a farmer's dream, yielding a bountiful crop of slender cobs adorned with deep black kernels. When popped, these kernels transform into small, tender white flakes with a dark hull, offering a naturally sweet flavor that pairs exceptionally well with a drizzle of olive oil. Nutritionally speaking, black popcorn is a powerhouse, boasting some of the highest levels of antioxidants among popcorn varieties.
Dakota Black is a variety of black popcorn worth mentioning on it’s own. This one is not an heirloom variety, but a modern marvel developed in the '80s. With its deep, earthy flavor, this newcomer to the popcorn scene is worth seeking out. In fact, if you're growing this in your own garden, consider us intrigued and ready for a popcorn soirée at your place!
Purple Popcorn Kernels
Purple popcorn is an heirloom variety native to the Andean mountains and Peruvian valleys. This deep-hued kernel pops into a fluffy, snow-white flake that's slightly smaller than its yellow and white counterparts. It packs a distinctly sweet and nutty flavor. Similar to the black & blue varieties this variety boasts higher levels of antioxidants like anthocyanin and phenolics than even blueberries.
Glass Gem Corn
Glass Gem Corn is an outstandingly beautiful corn variety that genuinely looks like stained glass - it is primarily a showpiece, more often found adorning your mantel than in your popcorn bowl. It pops up small and leaves more than a few kernels unpopped. What it lacks in efficiency, it makes up for in beauty and a tender texture and a flavor profile that dances between sweet and nutty. Our advice? Keep this one as your countertop conversation starter, but if curiosity gets the better of you, go ahead and give it a pop!
Of course this guide is just a starting point on the grand popcorn trail. There's a long history and wide world of kernels out there, each with its own unique story and flavor profile. Did we miss one of your go-to varieties? We're all ears 🌽! We hope this brief journey through the world of popcorn has sparked your curiosity and you're now geared up to embark on your own expedition. Happy popping!