Waysnack Machine is a series that looks back at discontinued products.
I’ve always loved popcorn. One of my favorite childhood memories is my dad making it in a pan, pouring the kernels out from one of those big plastic canisters of good ol’ Orville Redenbacher.
I’d stand there in the kitchen, waiting for the first pop, then listening to the following explosion of kernels, until we got down to that three-second count that meant it was ready. Then he would melt some butter in the already-hot pan and pour it over the bowl, adding generous amounts of salt.
There was one point, however, where I took ownership of my own popcorn destiny. That sentence has a really inflated sense of self-importance, but what I’m getting at is that in 1991, Pop Qwiz came out, and ten-year-old me was more than ready for it.
Why would a kid know or care about a very specific brand of popcorn? Well, Pop Secret (the maker of Pop Qwiz) went apeshit bonkers with their marketing. The commercial for Pop Qwiz had D-rate Zach Morris wearing a jacket I swear I owned, zany music, and a bunch of kids trying to win the “qwiz” (ugh) by guessing which color would “pop up next.”
You see, the gimmick behind Pop Qwiz was that it came in small, different-colored bags, but the color of the popcorn inside the bag didn’t necessarily match the color outside. That’s right, it was popcorn that came in neon-bright colors! Red, green, blue, yellow, purple, and…orange? I think orange was the sixth color. Obviously, yellow was the dud, since buttered popcorn already came in that color. I always considered green to be the win, as it seemed to be the most vibrant of the bunch.
In addition to the color guessing, there was also a bunch of puzzles and activities on the box. The popcorn equivalent of a breakfast cereal box. Between that and the commercials, who could resist?
It’s a shame the popcorn tasted like flavorless styrofoam and the bag held little more than a handful of popcorn. I’m not sure when Pop Qwiz was discontinued, because my interest soon waned, despite the novelty of colored popcorn. I guess I was just spoiled by my dad’s buttery, salty approach to making popcorn (and the copious amounts I received).
Mystery flavors have made a comeback recently, so I could see Pop Qwiz becoming popular once more. If they did bring it back, they’d better work on taste and portions, though, because novelty wears off quickly.