The Impulsive Buy

REVIEW: Cracker Jack Holiday Sugar Cookie Popcorn

The Christmas and holiday food season is filled with minefields of discontent. Like the hand-knit Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer sweater your grandma has given you every year since you were seven, it means well with its eggnog this and candy cane that, but for some of us, it’s all just too much of the same old same old.

A man’s pants can only expand so much between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day; and really, do you want another slice of pumpkin pie since you’ve been eating pumpkin spice everything since September?

There’s one exception: sugar cookies. I’ve never met someone who has grown tired of sugar cookies. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking crisp snowman-shaped cutouts with royal icing or chewy circles sprinkled with demerara sugar, the fact is that sugar cookies are nearly impossible to resist.

Just think about it; if Santa can eat millions of them in a single night year after year, you know there has gotta be something ineffably transcendent about the combination of sugar, butter, and flour. Or, Cracker Jack might say, sugar, sprinkles, and popcorn.

What is this, you say. An early present in my stocking, or a lump of coal to fan the flame on the pyre of holiday themed food trends past? In the case of Cracker Jack’s Holiday Sugar Cookie popcorn, it’s not just a present, it’s a present with a prize.

Now that’s a win-win.

The line between sugar cookie and birthday cake flavoring seems to be getting blurrier each year, and this faux-frosting coated Cracker Jack doesn’t help separate the two. Not that frosting is bad, because the one on this popcorn is excellent. It’s sweet, crunchy, and it has everything the glaze of normal Cracker Jack’s have, including those trademarked hints of molasses and caramel flavor.

While molasses might not be the first pairing that comes to mind with sugar cookie, in this case it works, It’s made even better by a pleasant artificiality of sprinkles and those cute little nonpareils the Pillsbury Dough Boy manages to bake into every Funfetti product this side of Fourth of July.

Sweeter than an actual sugar cookie, each crunchy, perfectly popped kernel may lack the grainy chew of flour and butter, but it’s still highly enjoyable to munch on. There’s still that lingering taste of salty popcorn on the backend, which, although far from the traditional sugar cookie experience, makes the popcorn all the better. It’s as if sugar cookie has finally picked up some of the synergy created by the sea salt chocolate chip or peanut butter cookie fads, and even though the popcorn isn’t as rich, it works.

There’s only one downside, as far as I’m concerned: the glorious prize, so beautifully advertised on the bag to suggest images of unwrapping gifts around the tree, is nothing more than a sticker. But I won’t complain too much. After all, it could have been a Rudolph sweater, which now that I think about it may have been worse than coal.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz. – 110 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 15 grams of sugars, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Cracker Jack Holiday Sugar Cookie Popcorn
Purchased Price: $1.28
Size: 4 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Like having frosting coated popcorn. Crunchy popcorn mimics light give of sugar cookie. Salty-sweet combination with back notes of molasses and caramel. SPRINKLES.
Cons: Typically weak Cracker Jack prize. Doesn’t come in cute holiday cut-out shapes like snowmen or Santa Clauses stuck in chimneys. No peanuts.