Eating popcorn for lunch was a hard job, but somebody had to do it.

By Bridget Hallinan
Updated December 17, 2019

There’s something so sentimental about popcorn.

Several Food & Wine editors fondly remember receiving tins of gourmet popcorn as children, loaded with caramel corn, orange-dusted cheddar corn, and butter corn. Even today, it's a gift we love to receive. But with so many new and unusual flavors on the market, we were curious which popcorn would impress us the most. Nostalgic classics? Or experimental newcomers?

Sarah Crowder

We reached out to several brands for their most popular flavors and decided to conduct a taste test. We tasted 35 varieties from six of the most popular popcorn companies—Double Good, Harry & David, Popcornopolis, Poppington’s, FunkyChunky, and The Popcorn Factory—with popcorn flavors ranging from red velvet to beer cheddar. Each taste tester was tasked with trying every! single! sample!, rating the popcorn based on flavor, texture, and how likely they would be to buy it. More than a few editors left the test kitchen with stomach aches. But we persevered in the name of science, and found a new favorite snack along the way.

Read on for our top five picks.

Sarah Crowder

WINNER: Double Good In Queso Fire

Of all the popcorn we tried, Double Good’s In Queso Fire (pictured above) was a near-unanimous favorite. Flavored with garlic, onion, jalapeño, and cheddar cheese, the popcorn has a spicy-savory flavor that kept us coming back for more. Though it ultimately left us all with orange-stained fingers, it was well worth it.

“A shoo-in for the winner,” associate digital editor Megan Soll said, “like a slightly more spicy Dorito dust. Salty and delicious.”

$18 for a jar, $27 for a family bag; get it here.

Second: The Popcorn Factory Trio

We tried one of The Popcorn Factory’s classic tins for this taste test: the Very Merry Plaid Merry Christmas Popcorn Tin, which came stocked with the iconic trio of butter, cheese, and caramel. Some editors liked to eat each flavor separately, while others combined them all into one big bite.

“The classic,” associate food editor Kelsey Youngman wrote. “Nicely popped and seasoned. What I’d set out at a holiday gathering.”

$43 for a 3.5 gallon tin with three flavors; get it here.

Third: Double Good White Cheddar Go Getter

Ultra-cheesy and salty, Double Good’s White Cheddar Go Getter tasted like a gourmet version of the classic Smartfood popcorn you’d get in grocery stores. Editors loved it.

“Now that is a cheese popcorn,” restaurant editor Maria Yagoda wrote. “Perfectly and generously coated.”

$18 for a jar, $27 for a family bag; get it here.

Fourth: Double Good It’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Time!

Drizzled with white chocolate and peanut butter, this popcorn was the perfect balance of salty and sweet without being cloying.

“Many chocolate popcorns are completely coated to the point that you lose the kernels inside,” associate news editor Adam Campbell-Schmitt said, “but Double Good manages to pack in amazing flavor with just a drizzle over the light, fluffy popcorn.”

$24 for a jar, $36 for a family bag; get it here.

Fifth: Poppington’s Spicy Dill Pickle Popcorn

Poppington’s described its Spicy Dill Pickle popcorn as “a Southern trend that’s not going away.” Well, it’s a trend we’re here for—the unique flavor and heat won several editors over.

“Dill pickle, whoa!!” assistant editor Nina Friend wrote. “Unbelievably spicy but unexpected and awesome.”

Starting at $7 for four cups; get it here.

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