A History of Toppings
PUBLISHED: Friday, September 11, 2020

A History of Toppings

Our popcorn series has finally come to its most controversial entry—toppings. To some, the mere mention of any toppings other than butter and salt is nearly sacrilegious. Bolder individuals will argue that nontraditional toppings like cheese, cinnamon, sugar, garlic powder, chile powder, and so on have earned a seat at the table. But which toppings are essential to popcorn lovers? Let’s take a look at some stalwart options (and maybe one or two out of the left field).

Butter and salt are the cheese pizza or vanilla ice cream of popcorn toppings—equal parts classic appeal and unoffensive presentation. These are the foods that prove that simplicity can be a virtue. Nearly anyone that enjoys popcorn will probably find butter and salt an acceptable, if not preferable, dressing for their snack. A subcategory is butter-flavored or buttery topping, the cinema and concession stand staple. It has a flavor that broadly resembles butter but is also its own thing, and a certain subset of popcorn lovers prefer it.

Other popcorn aficionados enjoy breaking with tradition and dressing their kernels in all sorts of non-traditional spices. An increasingly popular option in that avenue is making popcorn spicy by adding cayenne pepper, dried chili flakes, chili powder, or any other fine-grained ground pepper. These work especially well on popcorn because most of them are incredibly finely ground, even on par with popcorn salt. As a result, they adhere to individual kernels better than more coarsely-ground spices.

If a middle ground between progress and tradition exists in the popcorn world, it’s probably cheeses. Powdered cheddar has long been used as a popcorn seasoning and it has some very vocal fans. Other cheeses, like parmigiana and pecorino romano, can lend an earthier and more “grown-up” set of tasting notes to popcorn without sacrificing absolute simplicity. And, for those who prefer or require a dairy-free experience, nutritional yeast (also known as nooch) comes in a popcorn-ready powdered form that tastes surprisingly close to cheese.

Dressing your popcorn is one of the most crucial stages of home popping. The customer service representatives at Home Theater Express are available to discuss all things popcorn related online at ht-express.com and by phone at 1-800-774-0893.