When I was a kid, Jiffy-Pop was all we knew of popcorn. This ConAgra product came in a throw-away aluminum pan covered with foil that puffed up to become a shiny half-globe as you heated the contents stove-top.
Then, sometime in the 1980s, we started using the microwave to make popcorn: it was fast, it was easy, and although the popped kernels seemed sometimes a little chewier than I would have liked, it was super-convenient.
Later, we got an air-popper. We were very happy with the results. The popped kernels come out tender and because oil isn't needed, there are fewer calories in the final product (a problem we remedied with melted butter).
The only drawback with the air-popper is that it's somewhat inconvenient to pull out and set up – and then you have to measure the corn, position a paper shopping bag (increasingly a rare thing) to catch the popped corn as it flies out, warm up butter and add to the bag, shake with salt, and then clean the floor of all the stray pops.
Still, we were happy with our air popper.
Then, recently, I received an email from Quinn Popcorn asking me if I'd like to receive samples of this new and improved microwavable popcorn. Of course!
Quinn Popcorn has a range of much better seasonings than the folks behind Act II or Orville Redenbacher probably ever thought to include in their microwave bags: rosemary and parmesan, lemon and sea salt, Vermont maple and sea salt.
From an environmental perspective, Quinn Popcorn is advantageous because it comes in a bag that contains no chemical coatings (PFOA, PFCs, or Poly) and is made of compostable paper.
From a health perspective, Quinn Popcorn also enables you to moderate your caloric intake by using less oil than is provided. Typical procedure is to popcorn, add oil (e.g., grapeseed/canola blend), sprinkle in the seasoning packet and shake.
The corn itself is organic and non-GMO(of course!), and the expeller-pressed oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids.
All of which is nice…but how's it taste? I liked the lemon and sea salt a lot. It's really hard to get real lemon flavor into popcorn (without adding moisture), and I thought this particular flavor was good and a genuine advance in the technology of popping corn. The tartness of the lemon flavor (a combo of California and Meyer lemons, dehydrated to a powder) works well with the oil, providing tang and lightness.
The rosemary and parmesan was also good – and this seems like a mix you could almost make at home using cheese and finely chopped rosemary.
The Vermont maple and sea salt was not bad, perhaps a little more sugary than I'd prefer, and I had to add more salt (this is probably just me; other tasters thought the salt levels in the Quinn popcorn were just fine).
Carolyn took some Quinn popcorn to school to share with other teachers and they absolutely loved it…so much so that Carolyn contacted Whole Foods in River Forest to ask them to carry it. I'm not sure about the price, though I'd guess it's going to be relatively expensive.
I must say I feel that our air popper probably makes a better (lighter, fluffier, more tender) popcorn than Quinn's, but it's also more of a hassle to use. Quinn's has the very definite advantage of being convenient and tasting much, much better than more commonly available microwavable popcorn.
Quinn provides instructions for popping the corn stove-top if you like – though you'll have to supply your own aluminum pan and shiny foil half-globe.