March 8, 2017

Fun & Simple Ideas for National Popcorn Lovers' Day

For many people, March 9th is just another day at the old grindstone. But for those of us fun-loving folks, who are always looking for a reason to celebrate the ordinary moments in life, it's National Popcorn Lovers' Day. No really, it is.

Did you know Americans consume 14 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually? That's 43 quarts per or about 10 gallons per year for every man, woman and child.

In honor of this festive occasion, I'm sharing three simple ways to enjoy popcorn, one of my favorite snacks.

DIY Popcorn Station

One of my very favorite ways to serve popcorn at a party is with a DIY popcorn topping station. There's just something about giving your guests a bunch of different toppings that is so much fun for them. Maybe it's because as adults, we don't get to have as much whimsy in our lives as we'd like. 

To set up your own DIY popcorn topping station, you'll need enough freshly popped popcorn to feed your group and assorted topping options. 

Possible popcorn toppings to have on hand include: 

Popcorn salt & pepper
Assorted herbs & spices
Nuts (pine nuts, peanuts, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
Shredded cheese
Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots, etc.)
Chocolate chips or other candies 
Cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg

To pop the perfect batch of popcorn on the stovetop, cover the bottom of a 3- to 4-quart pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil (not butter, it will burn). Place 3 kernels of popcorn in the pan, cover with a loose lid that allows steam to escape, and heat. When the kernels pop, pour in enough popcorn to cover the bottom of the pan, one kernel deep, cover the pan and shake to evenly spread the oil. When the popping begins to slow to a few seconds apart, remove the pan from the stovetop. The heated oil will still pop the remaining kernels.

Set out your popcorn in a big bowl. Arrange your toppings nearby for easy access. I like to have those little brown paper lunch bags so people can add the popcorn and toppings, and shake up everything in the bag to mix it. If you don't make your popcorn from scratch, you may need to have a spray bottle of oil on hand to coat the corn and give your toppings something to stick to. 

One of my favorite popcorn topping combinations is garlic salt + parmesan cheese with a little dried oregano or chive. So delish! 

Also, if you happen to live near a Trader Joe's, you might want to pick up a bottle of their latest product, Everything but the Bagel seasoning. If you're a fan of everything bagels, you're going to love it. And apparently, in some markets, it's flown off the TJ's shelves. The Knoxville TJ's had some of it as of this post's publication. 

Something Sweet - White Chocolate Pudding Popcorn 

I wanted to include a sweet popcorn option in my Popcorn Lovers' Day round-up, but didn't want to settle for the standard caramel popcorn fare. Then I came across this recipe for vanilla pudding white chocolate popcorn and had to try it. It only requires a few ingredients and is super easy! For the full recipe, click here. 

Basically, you stir together melted white chocolate and instant vanilla pudding and then coat your popcorn with the mixture. It sets up and you can top it with sprinkles or add other candy treats. 

Caramel Popcorn Cocktail 

Finally, a tasty beverage that incorporates your favorite classic snack, caramel popcorn. Start with your choice of caramel topping and put about a teaspoon in the bottom of a glass. Add a shot of vodka and top with cream soda. Skip the vodka if you want to make this kid-friendly (obviously). 

Garnish with some caramel popcorn on a toothpick. Drink up! 

What's your favorite way to enjoy popcorn? I hope you enjoy National Popcorn Lovers' Day. Happy popping, ya'll! 

Many of the images were used with permission from the Popcorn Board. Click here to learn more.