REVIEW: Smartfood Snickerdoodle Popcorn

Smartfood Snickerdoodle Popcorn Bag

What is Smartfood Snickerdoodle Popcorn

From the pre-popped popcorn giant Smartfood comes Snickerdoodle, a “limited holiday flavor” meant to capture the magical, Home Ec essence of buttery cinnamon-sugar cookies. It is not Smartfood’s only sweet popcorn offering. Its regular lineup includes kettle corn and a caramel/cheddar combo. But it ties with this year’s earlier offerings of Caramel & Cinnamon Apple Mix and Cap’n Crunch Berries Popcorn Mix in terms of ambitiousness.

How is it?

Perfectly mediocre, I’m afraid. While the concept is a wonderful one — soft, warm, cinnamon blasted cookies in popcorn form! — the execution is lackluster. There is no uniformity, really, with about every tenth piece achieving a perfect nirvana of true Snickerdoodle bliss.

Smartfood Snickerdoodle Popcorn Seasoning

The pieces that escape the cinnamon-sugar bath are bland and unseasoned, small, chewy bits of lightly salted styrofoam. Also disappointing is the lack of a discernible butter profile, a key component of the cookie experience.

Anything else you need to know?

Smartfood White Cheddar is wonderful, so I had high hopes for this. Alas, my heart was broken. Additionally, I had no idea that the brand also has Hot Buffalo and Sour Cream & Onion versions. Are these any good? I guess that’s more of a “anything else *I* need to know.”

Conclusion:

Lots of moderately sized cities seem to have “gourmet” popcorn shops these days, and, in my experience, most of these have some riff on the “cinnamon toast” popcorn variety. So do yourself a favor and get a bag of that, instead. Chances are, you’ll be much happier.

If you don’t have a gourmet popcorn shop, you should open one. And if you don’t want to do that, maybe go with a bag of Pop Secret and hit it with some of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust we recently reviewed. I feel like that would still beat this.

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 6.25 oz bag
Purchased at: Hy-Vee
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2.5 cups) 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Smartfood Caramel & Cinnamon Apple Mix Popcorn

Smartfood Caramel  Cinnamon Apple Mix

What is Smartfood Caramel & Cinnamon Apple Mix Popcorn?

It’s a new seasonal mix that combines caramel popcorn with cinnamon apple-flavored popcorn. While the cinnamon apple is a new flavor, the caramel one can be found in Smartfood’s Caramel & Cheddar Mix Popcorn. According to the folks at Frito-Lay, it’ll be available during the fall and winter months.

How is it?

Well, it depends on how you eat it. Much like Smartfood’s Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries Popcorn Mix that came out during the summer, I had to be mindful of what I pulled out of the bag.

Smartfood Caramel  Cinnamon Apple Mix Closeup

There are two types of pieces — lightly seasoned apple cinnamon kernels and heavily coated caramel kernels. Visually, the ratio looks like it’s two apple cinnamon kernels for every one caramel.

Although there are more of them, try to avoid eating only the apple cinnamon pieces because their flavor is too faint. They’re so unsatisfying that if someone gave me a bag of only those kernels, I’d hand the bag back to them, remove them from my holiday card list forever, block them on Facebook, and spurn any future greetings from them in public.

However, when eaten with the caramel-coated popcorn, the apple cinnamon flavor is exponentially better, making it hard to put down the bag. There’s some seasoning on the confection coated pieces, but they’re there because they happen to share the same bag with the other. There’s also a pleasant butteriness that makes my mind think pie crust. So, yes, this tastes like apple pie-flavored popcorn.

Anything else you need to know?

If you ever wanted to huff an apple pie, but couldn’t because of the logistics of it, this bag will help you accomplish that. It smells so wonderful that the scent should be available as a candle because strapping this bag to my face using binder clips and a rubber band is probably not safe.

Along with this seven-ounce bag with a $3.99 suggested retail price, there’s also a two-ounce bag with a $1.89 suggested retail price. But don’t mess around with the smaller one. Go for the bigger bag. Your mouth won’t regret it.

Conclusion:

I love Smartfood’s Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries Popcorn Mix, but I love this Caramel & Cinnamon Apple Mix more. I’m disappointed it’s seasonal. But since it tastes like apple pie, it could come back during the Fourth of July-apple pie season.

DISCLOSURE: I received free samples of the product. Thanks, Frito-Lay! Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 7 oz bag
Purchased at: Received from Frito-Lay
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 1/2 cups) 140 calories, 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Smartfood Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries Popcorn Mix

Smartfood Cap n Crunch s Crunch Berries Popcorn Mix Bag

When I first heard about Smartfood’s Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries Popcorn Mix, I thought, “Why isn’t there a Cap’n Crunch Kettle Corn Mix?”

But after putting more thought than anyone should about the idea, I realized, “Do I REALLY want popcorn kernel hulls lodged into whatever scratches are made by the Cap’n Crunch cereal?”

Nope.

This less hurtful snack combines Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries from Quaker, owned by PepsiCo, with berry-flavored popcorn from Smartfood, also owned by PepsiCo. Because of the added kernel seasoning, it would be difficult to recreate this combo after its limited time is up with merely a bag of plain microwave popcorn and box of Oops All Berries.

But this is tasty enough that it should come back, or be a permanent addition to the Smartfood lineup.

Smartfood Cap n Crunch s Crunch Berries Popcorn Mix Bag Closeup

Sadly, the popcorn itself isn’t colored like rainbow popcorn. Instead, at a quick glance, they look like plain popcorn. But there is a seasoning layer that makes the popped kernels look like they spent some time suntanning on the deck of the S.S. Guppy. That coating provides a noticeable amount of berry flavor and light saltiness. But it’s not enough to make the popcorn alone a satisfying snack or a product that should be added to the Smartfood lineup.

The Crunch Berries amp up the berry flavor to a level you’d get if you were, well, eating Crunch Berries cereal. I know. It’s a little anticlimactic. Maybe if I rephrase it with ship-speak? The cereal’s flavor hits the bow, stem, port, and starboard sides of my tongue full steam ahead with berry. It’s berry good.

While I find this snack to be wonderful, there is a minor, but correctable issue. When I first started eating it by blindly grabbing some from its bag, I’d feel for the cereal pieces and then feel for some popcorn before pulling out my hand. But almost every time, my fingers would pull out only popcorn. I guess the cereal piece I felt for slipped away somehow. Or I might have the worst luck or useless fingers. But being able to see the cereal pieces, pick one up, and then grab some popcorn helped tremendously.

While Smartfood Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries Popcorn Mix tastes pretty much like Crunch Berries, I did love having the two crunchy textures of popcorn and cereal at the same time in my mouth. Yes, this does seem like an odd combination, but I’m happy to report it works well.

DISCLOSURE: I received free samples of the product. (Thanks, PepsiCo!) Doing so did not influence my review, although it totally seems like it. But I assure you it did not.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 6 1/4 oz bag
Purchased at: Received from PepsiCo
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 3/4 cups) 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 110 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Cheetos Popcorn (Cheddar and Flamin’ Hot)

Cheetos Popcorn  Cheddar and Flamin Hot

Some of you might have questions after seeing these bags of Cheetos Popcorn, like:

Is this like Chester’s Popcorn that has been around for a while?

Will Cheetos and Flamin’ Hot seasoning ever be bottled so I can put it on my own popcorn, chips, pretzels, and fingertips?

Is Chester Cheetah skinny because he runs a lot or because he doesn’t have a typical cheetah diet and eats only Cheetos-flavored products?

I can’t answer any of those questions, but I do know Cheetos Popcorn, both Cheddar and Flamin’ Hot varieties, taste like what you would expect from popcorn that’s coated with Cheeto Dust. Oh wait, I’m sorry. I’m obligated to write, “coated with Cheetle.”

Now I’m sure the term “Cheetle” brings up more questions, like:

Is that some kind of orange beetle? Are these coated in orange beetles? Is this like a real-life Slurm?

Why is the cheesy dust on Cheetos named after Don Cheetle? Also, how come he doesn’t get to have his own Marvel movie?

“Cheetle” is the official name of what we used to call, unofficially, Cheeto Dust. It’s the stuff that gets stuck to our fingers while eating Cheetos with our hands and goes down our noses when we pour the cheesy snack into our mouths from the bag.

Cheetos Popcorn Cheddar

And it’s Cheetle that gives Cheetos Popcorn Cheddar its vibrant orange color and that cheesiness we know and remove from our fingers using our mouths. Like a bag of Cheetos (Puffs or Crunchy), I could eat this popcorn all day. It’s that good. However, I could see how some folks might find the level of flavor to be too mild.

There is one odd thing I noticed about the snack. When I suck the Cheeto Du…I mean, Cheetle off my fingers, it tastes like Cheez-It crackers. Maybe that’s just me and my fingertips excrete cracker-flavored sweat. Yeah, suck it, dogs and your Fritos-smelling paws!

Cheetos Popcorn Flamin Hot

As for the Flamin’ Hot one, I didn’t care for it at first. Initially, it tasted like Cheetos was doing a crossover with Campbell’s to create spicy V8-flavored popcorn. But after eating a few more, the popcorn began to taste more like the Flamin’ Hot I’ve come to love.

Despite our rough introduction, I ended up liking the red-coated popcorn, although not as much as the Cheddar ones. Also, I don’t know if it’s just me again, but I found the level of spiciness to be lower than other Flamin’ Hot products, even though every kernel is coated so well that they look like the head of Captain America’s nemesis, Red Skull.

With both varieties, I thought the popped kernels were noticeably smaller than other packaged popcorn I’ve procured, but I guess that means more could fit in the bag.

If you’ve wanted Cheetos (or Flamin’ Hot) flavoring on a snack with slightly better nutritional values than corn puffs and chips, then there’s no question Cheetos Popcorn is what you want.

DISCLOSURE: I’d like to thank Cheetos for sending me free samples. Receiving them did not influence my review in any way. Although, the 8 out of 10 rating might make you suspicious. But I assure you getting free samples did not.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 7 oz. bag (Cheddar), 6 1/2 oz. bag (Flamin’ Hot)
Purchased at: Received from Cheetos
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Cheddar), 7 out of 10 (Flamin’ Hot)
Nutrition Facts: (28 grams) Cheddar – 160 calories, 11 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein. Flamin’ Hot – 160 calories, 11 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 320 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Great Value Holiday Sugar Cookie Popcorn

Great Value Holiday Sugar Cookie Popcorn

What is Great Value Holiday Sugar Cookie Popcorn?

Walmart’s store brand has upped its game when it comes to seasonal products. One of its new yuletide items is a sugar cookie–flavored microwave popcorn. Even though “sugar” is in the name, there’s no sugar added; this microwave popcorn is flavored by “natural and artificial flavor” and sucralose.

How is it?

I had no idea what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. My coworker said, “It’s like they took a syringe and injected a full sugar cookie in each corn.” I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s definitely adjacent to a sugar cookie flavor.

Great Value Holiday Sugar Cookie Popcorn Closeup

It has a buttery element that is less reminiscent of popcorn and more reminiscent of sugar cookies. It’s sweet, but not as sweet as kettle corn. This would be a great snack to munch on while watching a holiday movie like How the Wonderful Elf Died Hard Home Alone on 34th Street.

Still, though, it’s not addicting. I usually can inhale popcorn (as long as it’s not overly saturated with artificial butter flavor), but with this sweet version, I’m satisfied with a handful or two, and I don’t feel like eating more.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Is there anything else you need to know?

I obeyed the packaging’s rule not to use the microwave’s popcorn button, even though everyone ignores that. The recommended minute and forty-five seconds was perfect for my home microwave, but it was entirely too short for the office microwave.

Also, it tastes much better than it smells.

Conclusion:

I can’t munch on this treat indefinitely, but Great Value deserves an A for ingenuity.

Purchased Price: $1.98
Size: 14.04 oz. box (6 bags)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 bag) 340 calories, 21 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 350 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of total sugars, 0 grams of added sugars, and 4 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Crunch ‘n Munch Popcorn Clusters (Birthday Cake and Brownie Brittle Crunch)

Crunch  n Munch Popcorn Clusters  Birthday Cake and Brownie Brittle Crunch

Who needs an actual birthday cake when you can have birthday cake-flavored popcorn instead?

“Not me,” I thought as I gleefully tossed a bag of Crunch ‘n Munch Birthday Cake Popcorn Clusters into my shopping cart in lieu of a pricey bakery cake. Internally praising myself for frugality, I decided to throw in a bag of Brownie Brittle Crunch variety too. Turning 22 deserves celebration, after all.

Birthday Cake Popcorn Clusters

Created to bring an entire birthday party to your mouth, this flavor features rainbow-sprinkled, cake batter-flavored popcorn alongside miniature sugar and birthday cake cookies.

Crunch  n Munch Birthday Cake Popcorn Clusters

Aesthetically, I’ve got to admit this is one of the most attractive popcorn treats I’ve ever seen. Beyond color, each kernel was visibly loaded with a thick coating of candy, cookies, and surprisingly large confetti sprinkles. It’s one of those snacks you only have to glance at to know you’re in for a great experience.

It doesn’t disappoint on the taste front, either. Although the layer of candy enrobing each kernel didn’t taste as strongly of birthday cake as I would have liked, I’m willing to give it a pass anyway for being so sweet, thick, and pleasingly crunchy.

In addition to being delicious in its own right, the candy coating’s strength also helped the cookie chunks adhere to the popcorn, causing small clusters to form in the process. The bits, although tasty and a nice textural contrast from the candy coated-popcorn, didn’t have much flavor by themselves. In fact, I found it pretty much impossible to discern the birthday cake cookies from the regular sugar ones, and it would be easy to forget the inclusion of two distinct types of cookies pieces if it weren’t for the description on the back of the bag.

Brownie Brittle Crunch Popcorn Clusters

Throwing a bone out to chocoholics everywhere, Crunch ‘n Munch’s Brownie Brittle Crunch flavor includes chocolate-glazed popcorn alongside brownie brittle, brownie cookies pieces, and praline almonds.

Crunch  n Munch Brownie Brittle Crunch Popcorn Clusters

Unlike the Birthday Cake Popcorn Clusters, this variety isn’t as photogenic – sporting a brown-on-brown color scheme that reminds me more of burnt Jiffy Pop than a decadent treat. Normally, this wouldn’t be much of an issue for me because I don’t typically expect my popcorn to be worthy of a full-page color spread in Food Network Magazine, but its flavor was also a flop.

The biggest problem was the popcorn’s coating. It wasn’t terrible, but I was expecting it to taste much more cocoa-forward than it was. Instead, I found its taste to be more similar to a chocolate-flavored hard candy than a chocolate lover’s dream come true.

The brownie cookies and accompanying brittle didn’t fare much better. Much like the birthday cake and sugar cookies on the Birthday Cake one, the cookies and brittle pieces here were nearly indistinguishable from one another, and you’d be hard-pressed to identify where one starts and another one ends when chomping down on a large cluster of popcorn.

Speaking of indistinguishable components, I’d say the praline pieces fall into this category. After eating a couple of handfuls and not detecting a single one, I poured my bag out into a bowl and embarked on a personal mission to find and consume every praline I could find. For all my trouble, I was beyond sad to discover only five lonely pieces in my bag, which was a real shame, considering pralines almonds are one of humanity’s crowning achievements in confectionery.

Minor flaws and laughably minuscule serving size aside, I found both of these loaded ‘n coated popcorn snacks to be a step up from your everyday caramel corn. While neither may be entirely able to entice me to forgo a traditional birthday cake in the future, I can certainly see myself stashing these in my purse on future trips to the movies.

Purchased Price: $2.68 each
Size: 5.5 oz.
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Birthday Cake), 6 out of 10 (Brownie Brittle Crunch)
Nutrition Facts: (1/2 cup) Birthday Cake – 140 calories, 4 grams of total fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 16 grams of total sugars, 16 grams of added sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein. Brownie Brittle Crunch – 130 calories, 3.5 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 14 grams of total sugars, 14 grams of added sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein.