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Chicago Style Popcorn A True Classic
Chicago Style Popcorn A True Classic is absolutely delicious! If you have never tried Chicago style popcorn, you have got to try it, asap. You will be so glad you did! Once you start snacking on Chicago style popcorn, it’s hard to stop. Seriously!! I have eaten bags, big bags, of this popcorn and I’m not even a huge popcorn fan but the combination of caramel corn and cheese popcorn is wonderful.
What is Chicago Style Popcorn?
Chicago style popcorn is known to locals as caramel corn and cheddar cheese flavored popcorn mixed together. That’s it! This mixture is an addictive, cheesy, sweet and salty snack combination. Chicago style Popcorn is delicious and everyone loves it the minute they try it. It’s best made homemade and served warm but it’s absolutely delicious anytime.
History of Chicago Style Popcorn
Garrett Popcorn Shop of Chicago was founded in 1949 by Claude and Gladys Garrett. The Garrett’s are most well known for this style of popcorn. Their loyal customers would stand in lines around the shop to buy the caramel crisp and cheese popcorn bags, each sold separately. The customers would then mix the two bags together. Noticing this trend, Garrett began mixing the popcorn together and the start of Chicago style popcorn began.
Most of the worlds popcorn is grown in the Midwest, principally in Nebraska, Iowa and Indiana. Although popcorn has been with us since the pioneer days, it wasn’t until 1890 that popcorn became important enough to raise as a crop for market. Up until this time, individual families would raise their own popcorn. Since the 1890’s, popcorn has brought enough income to be called “prairie gold” by it’s growers.
Popcorn History Continued
Popcorn really began to become popular in the 1890’s. The first popcorn machine was invented by Charles Cretors of Chicago Illinois in 1885. The popcorn machines back then had a gasoline burner or a steam burner, to pop popcorn. The cumbersome popcorn machines would be pushed around the town or could be seen at state fairs, carnivals and outdoor festivals.
More Popcorn History
In 1914, Cloid H. Smith founded the American Popcorn Company in Sioux City, Iowa and founded Americas first brand name popcorn called “Jolly Time” With movie theaters opening, popcorn became the “must have” snack at the movies. During the Depression, popcorn was one of the few luxuries families could still afford, making popcorn businesses, the only businesses to thrive.
Even More Popcorn History
During World War II, sugar was sent overseas for American troops. This meant there was less candy being made an Americans ate three times more popcorn during this time. When television became popular in the 1950’s, popcorn sales again made a huge rise. As families started buying televisions, they stayed home more and were eating popcorn as they watched their favorite TV shows.
Even today, un-popped popcorn is still one of the most economical snacks you can buy. Even popped popcorn sold in those huge bags, is still a snack everyone can afford. These big bags are usually sold, in my area, for under $6.00. I recently bought 2- 8 oz packets of home-grown popcorn kernels from Nicolet Farms for .50¢ a piece. Either way you buy it, popcorn can’t be beat in the price department.
Looking for More?
- 20 to 25 cups popped popcorn (2 large batches)
- 2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1 cup salted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- *Popcorn can be air popped to reduce fat or popped in oil, your choice. *Popping the popcorn in oil will help the caramel corn to separate easily.
- *Remember to remove any un-popped popcorn kernels.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Lightly spray a large roasting pan with a non-stick cooking spray. Place popped popcorn in prepared pan.
- Prepare caramel sauce: In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup and butter, stir until smooth and melted. Increase heat to medium, stirring constantly until the caramel sauce comes to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes only, stirring constantly (let boil for 5 minutes only or until temperature reaches 235 degrees on your candy thermometer) Immediately remove from heat. Carefully stir in the vanilla extract, baking soda and salt (mixture will begin to boil violently) Using a long-handled wooden spoon, stir down the mixture until rolling boiling subsides. Pour the hot caramel syrup over popcorn stirring evenly to coat; place the roasting pan in the oven.
- Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully pour popcorn onto a large sheet of tin foil (mix caramel popcorn with the cheese popcorn).
- Let cool completely. Once cool, break apart any large clumps with your hands. Store in airtight containers or in ziplock baggies
The secret to great cheese popcorn is to use processed powdered cheese. Yes, you heard me right….processed cheese powder! You can find cheese powder in grocery stores, usually by the bags of un-popped popcorn kernels. You can also order cheese powder online. Here are a few to check out: Cabot Cheese and Valley Popcorn. In a pinch, you can use cheese packets found in boxes of Macaroni and Cheese.
Cheddar Cheese Popcorn
- 24 cups popped popcorn (2 large batches)
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 cups cheddar cheese powder
- 2 teaspoons mustard powder
- 1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder, optional
- 1 cup butter
- *Remember to remove any up-popped popcorn kernels. *Popcorn can be air-popped to reduce fat or popped in oil, (your choice) *If popped in oil, place the popped popcorn in a paper bag to help drain excess oil.
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place popped popcorn in a large roasting pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix together the salt, cheddar cheese powder, mustard powder, and chili powder. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat until melted or in a microwave safe glass bowl, microwave butter on low until melted. Pour the melted butter over the popcorn in roasting pan. Shake or stir to coat evenly. Immediately pour the cheese mixture over the buttered popcorn. Shake or stir to coat evenly.
- Place roasting pan in pre-heated oven. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven, mix together with caramel corn for Chicago-style popcorn.
- Store in airtight containers or ziplock storage bags.
*Cheese popcorn recipe and information adapted from: What’s Cooking America