Kettle Corn or Chicago Mix?

I love popcorn.   I once dated an English man who said that the three things he didn’t understand about Americans were popcorn, peanut butter, and Billy Joel.  Regardless, I think popcorn is fabulous. I love my whirlypop corn popper, for fresh hot popcorn with a slight coconut taste from the oil, and sufficient salt.  Mmm.  Nothing like it.  Thanks, Kathleen, this was an awesome gift.  I even like the popcorn at the movie theater, with the “liquid gold” fake butter oil added.  Bring extra napkins and a bottle of water.

That said, this post is about prepackaged popcorn.    There are a few noteworthy bags out there:  SmartFood, with its cheddary coating.  Popcorn, Indiana’s kettlecorn.  Wise Butter Popcorn, for the old-school snack food taste.  But the popcorn bags which vie for my love are Nettie’s Kettle Corn and G.H Cretor’s Chicago Mix.

Nettie’s, I’m proud to say, is a Rhode Island brand.  I first tasted it at our local Barrington farmer’s market, and I was hooked.  It was available in regular, cinnamon, maple, and sugar-free (which I bought because, you know, diet, but it tasted every bit like artificial sweeteners).  Every Saturday I would buy a large regular bag, charmingly packaged in a long plastic bag with a little twist-tie.  Very much a small operation.  The next year, Nettie’s didn’t appear at the market, but Voila!  I found it at my local supermarket, Shaw’s.  O!  Joy.  I no longer had to wait until Saturday markets!  I could get my fix any time.  And I did.  Now, I don’t have a very addictive personality.  I quit smoking with no withdrawal and no side effects.  But kettle corn?  I was jonesing.  It was the whole bag or nothing.  I turned my friend Liz onto Nettie’s – now she has to have it every day.  Liz is a remarkably disciplined person.  She has one cup of Nettie’s per day, after work.  I can’t do it that way.  If the bag is opened, I will eat it until it’s gone.  Once in a while I’ll buy it, saying that I’m buying it for the boys or a houseguest.  That’s a lie.  Like I said, I’m an addict. 

And then I discovered G.H. Cretor’s Chicago Mix.  Chicago Mix, according to G.H. Cretor’s, is a mix of cheddar and caramel corn.  It is salty and sweet, like kettle corn, but oh so different.  It isn’t just salty and sweet.  It is cheddary and caramelly.  In the same handful.  When I was about 10, we visited a family who were friends of my parents, and they had a big holiday can of popcorn, divided into three, with one section each of butter, cheddar, and caramel popcorn.  Heaven.  Chicago Mix is like that, only not divided and without the plain butter popcorn.  Here’s a question for any readers from Chicago:  is this a Thing?  Do you randomly go to popcorn shops in the Loop and order Chicago Mix, and get a blend of cheddar and caramel popcorn?  Is this a regular snack in the Windy City?  It may be the best thing about an already great city.

There will be no settling this question. No competition. I’ll keep enjoying them both. I might even buy some for you, but if I do, be prepared to share it with me. 

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