Making caramel corn is a subtle art.
Compared to regular popcorn, it has a lot more elements that have to be executed well in order for the final product to be spectacular. There has to be enough of it to carry its flavor, but it can’t be so glopped on that the popcorn is in a cocoon of sugar.
The toppings have to complement the caramel, and they have to be evenly distributed to allow most of the pieces to get some drizzle. Don’t forget about the salt, either! There has to be enough of it to balance out the sweetness from everything else, but there also can’t be so much that the entire experience veers off towards the savory side.
Given that caramel corn has so many things going on at the same time, it’s easy to see why most seem to fall short in one aspect or another. Not one to back down from such a challenge, Hershey’s has decided to give us not one, but two new takes on this classic treat!
Hershey’s Popcorn Milk Chocolate
With its Milk Chocolate variety, Hershey’s topped each cocoa-and-caramel-coated kernel with a drizzle of its signature milk chocolate. Everything about it, from the delicious cocoa aroma emanating from the caramel to the smooth drizzle, was all about showing off what Hershey’s is famous for.
In fact, it featured milk chocolate so much that the caramel got a little lost along the way. While the coating helped keep the popcorn fresh, its caramel flavor was difficult to notice among the chocolate elements.
Hershey’s Popcorn Sea Salt Caramel
Surprisingly, the Sea Salt Caramel version shared this issue. In the absence of the milk chocolate drizzle featured in the other variety, the play between the cocoa and caramel in the coating here created a scent and taste that reminded me of a toasted marshmallow. Don’t get me wrong – this version is tasty, too – but its name is a bit of a misnomer.
The one thing about it that rings true is the “sea salt” part. It has a more noticeable salt level if you compare it with its Milk Chocolate brother. Even so, it never quite reaches the level of being too savory. Instead, I welcomed the extra saltiness to counter the whole toasted marshmallow-esque vibe going on.
Did Hershey’s Popcorn rise to the sweet-and-salty challenge of caramel corn? All in all, I’d say it did well! I found both to be yummy and wouldn’t have a problem watching a movie with either flavor beside me. Now if theaters could sell this stuff!
(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – Sea Salt Caramel – 120 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 17 grams of total sugars, 16 grams of added sugars, and 1 gram of protein. Milk Chocolate – 110 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 16 grams of total sugars, 15 grams of added sugars, and 1 gram of protein.)
Purchased Price: $2.98 each
Size: 6 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Sea Salt Caramel)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Milk Chocolate)
Pros: Good balance between sugar and salt. Signature Hershey’s chocolate. Perfect snacking companion for movies!
Cons: Chocolate overpowered the caramel in both flavors. Sea Salt Caramel tasted more like a toasted marshmallow than it did like caramel. Not sold at the movies.