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The Difference between Kettle Corn and Popcorn

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Recently, there has been a growth in the availability of kettle corn. It can now be purchased at most fairs, carnivals, vender shows, movie theaters, snack bars, and even in the supermarket. Despite this, the actual difference between regular popcorn and kettle corn is not known to most people. And it is important to note that kettle corn is considered popcorn. It is simply one type of popcorn out of many. There are several factors where kettle corn is different from other types of popcorn, though.

  1. Flavor

The largest and most noticeable difference between regular air-popped, or oil-popped popcorn, and kettle corn is going to be the flavor. When preparing popcorn in a more traditional fashion, it is often flavored with butter and salt, and is typically considered a salty snack. However, there are other common flavors, such as cheese, chili, and cinnamon. Due to the relatively neutral flavor of popcorn, it adapts well to almost any type of seasoning.[i]

Kettle corn, on the other hand, is going to have a predominantly sweet flavor, with only a hint of salt. The oil that it is popped in picks up the flavorings of sugar and a hint of salt to create a distinct flavor that is more sweet than salty. Really, other than kettle corn, the only exception to regular popcorn being a sweet treat is going to be when it is drizzled with caramel to create caramel corn.[ii]

  1. Preparation

Aside from flavor, the method of preparing each type of popcorn differs as well. They are both made using a type of corn that is specially bred to burst open and puff up when exposed to heat, but generally speaking, popcorn can be prepared in a variety of ways while kettle corn has a fixed method. Popcorn can come prepackaged, which would be prepared in a microwave oven, or it can be prepared in a small scale popcorn maker that allows for air popping as well. While there are many health benefits to air popping popcorn, a much more common method uses oil. This can be done by adding a small amount of oil to a pan in your home and heating the kernels with it. It is, also, done in the large-scale popcorn makers that are often found in movie theaters. These became a very popular machine in the late 19th century, and work by heating the corn kernels in oil that has been heated by steam. The oil popping method can, also, be found in some of the smaller home popcorn makers.[iii]

Kettle corn is usually prepared in a cast iron kettle, though it may sometimes be done in a Dutch oven. When the corn kernels, oil, sugar, and salt are placed in the kettle together and heated, the kernels pop and develop a noticeable sweet crust. Another requirement when making kettle corn is that it must be constantly stirred. This is due to the fact that sugar can burn easily, and makes the preparation of kettle corn much more labor intensive than regular popcorn. You can find versions of microwaveable or already bagged kettle corn in the supermarket.[iv]

  1. Nutritional value

Looking at the nutritional value of popcorn and kettle corn can be tricky because it relies so much upon the way it is prepared, as well as the topping and seasonings added after cooking. Because of this, the nutritional value of popcorn can vary. When air popped with just a light dusting of salt added, popcorn can be an incredibly healthy snack. You are consuming whole grains with a lot of fiber and antioxidants. It is, also, relatively low in calories and sugar, and when only a little salt is added it has low sodium. But, on the other end of the spectrum, if you order popcorn at a typical movie theater, it will be popped in oil and also have a butter, or margarine, topping added along with a large amount of salt. In some instances, a small bag of popcorn can contain as much as 29 grams of saturated fat, which is a full day and a half’s worth of the recommended intake. A large serving will have exponentially more.[v]

With kettle corn, you will find a much higher sugar content than would be found with regular corn. This does not mean that there is as much fat as movie theater popcorn, but how one’s body processes sugar will be influential in their ability to metabolize it. Even though the fat content is lower, the amount of calories in kettle corn is roughly the same as with movie theater popcorn, they simply come from a different source.[vi]

  1. History

Corn was a staple crop in ancient Mexico, and it has been discovered that popcorn has been made even in 3600 BC. Popcorn became well known throughout the United States, and became an ingredient in Cracker Jack in the mid-19th century. It became even more widespread and popular after the popcorn maker was invented in the 1890s. It became a staple snack for many during the Great Depression and through World War II. It remains one of the most popular snack products in America.[vii]

Like popcorn, kettle corn also became popular in the 18th century. It was made by Dutch settlers in Pennsylvania. It, once again, grew in popularity in the early 21st century and is typically sold in fairs, flea markets, and craft shows.[viii]


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References :


[0][i] What is the difference between kettle corn and popcorn. (n.d.). on Wisegeek. Retrieved December 12, 2016 from

[1][ii] What is the difference between kettle corn and popcorn. (n.d.). on Wisegeek. Retrieved December 12, 2016 from

[2][iii] Popcorn. (n.d.). On Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popcorn

[3][iv] Kettle corn. (n.d.). On Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kettle_corn

[4][v] Popcorn. (n.d.). On Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popcorn

[5][vi] Griffin. T (2015, December 2). Is there a bit difference in how healthy it is to eat between regular popcorn and kettle corn? On Quora. Retrieved December 12, 2016 from https://www.quora.com/Is-there-a-big-difference-in-how-healthy-it-is-to-eat-between-regular-popcorn-and-kettle-corn

[6][vii] Popcorn. (n.d.). On Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popcorn

[7][viii] Kettle corn. (n.d.). On Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kettle_corn

[8][viii] Kettle corn. (n.d.). On Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kettle_corn

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