Taste Test Thursday: Sweet and Salty Kettle Corn

All the kettle corn you could ever want (photography by Carol Shih)
All the kettle corn you could ever want (photography by Carol Shih)
Andi Harman

A wise man once said, “Never open a bag of Trader Joe’s kettle corn in front of Carol Shih.”

Why? Because I’ll destroy that popcorn like there’s no freaking tomorrow. If my dentist ever found out, he’d kill me. But, dang, that snack is just as ADDICTING as playing Candy Crush.

Those two things have destroyed my waistline and social life. Thank you.

Joking aside, I discovered kettle corn about two years ago and I haven’t recovered ever since. Ugh. No wonder all my pants fit too snugly. Jump with me to find out which of the four different kinds of kettle corn won. This is important, I tell you. It’s more important than anything else you’re doing right now.



A. Trader Joe’s kettle corn
B. 365 brand’s sweet and salty kettle corn
C. Angie’s kettle corn (made in small batches with sea salt)
D. Sprout’s kettle corn
E. Bonus: Popcorn Indiana’s cinnamon kettle corn (We tasted this just for fun.)


A bunch of the usuals + our new editor, Cristina Daglas. I’m pretty glad she’s joined our crowd of tasters. She has legible handwriting. Last week, it took me and two other decoders 10 minutes to figure out what Jason Heid was trying to say about peanut butter. This is what they pay me to do, I guess.

Trader Joe's kettle corn
Trader Joe’s kettle corn
Andi Harman


A. Trader Joe’s kettle corn

Taster 1 – bland
Taster 2 – sweet
Taster 3 – tiny bit of salt- bland
Taster 4 – sweet, a lot like caramel corn
Taster 5 – light, flavor falls off quickly
Taster 6 – minimal flavor, slightly mushy, bleh
Taster 7 – lots of flavor, sweet & salty

365's kettle corn
365’s kettle corn
Andi Harman

B. 365 brand’s sweet and salty kettle corn

Taster 1 – crunchiest, zesty
Taster 2 – nice, big morsels
Taster 3 – salty and caramel sweet. Love!
Taster 4 – nice balance, not over sweet
Taster 5 – more kettle flavor, but ultimately disappointing
Taster 6 – semi-sweet, okay.
Taster 7 – sweet, not salty

Angie's kettle corn
Angie’s kettle corn
Andi Harman

C. Angie’s kettle corn (made in small batches with sea salt)

Taster 1 – buttery and cinnamon
Taster 2 – less sweet, more salty
Taster 3 – too salty. Not enough sweet
Taster 4 – bland, no flavor, not sweet
Taster 5 – more butter than sweet
Taster 6 – good crunch. nice sweetness
Taster 7 – bland, needs salt

Sprouts' kettle corn
Sprouts’ kettle corn
Andi Harman

D. Sprout’s kettle corn

Taster 1 – juicy and sweet
Taster 2 – also sweet, much like A
Taster 3 – Sweet. Caramelized. Second favorite.
Taster 4 – mildly sweet
Taster 5 – salty, sweet, good
Taster 6 – crunchy, light, yum.
Taster 7 – average


A. Trader Joe’s = 3 votes
B. 365 brand’s = 6 votes
C. Angie’s
D. Sprout’s = 2 votes


  • All the kettle corn looked basically the same. It was hard to tell one apart from the other.
  • Popcorn Indiana’s cinnamon kettle corn is the bomb. You’re better off as a person if you eat this.
  • Those who don’t partake in kettle corn consumption are heartless.

It’s a shame that my favorite, Trader Joe’s, didn’t win. I personally thought it had the most crunch (probably because it had the most sugar, too). Even though a lot of the tasters kept saying, “This is hard, this is hard” while they were eating up, it sounds like most of them found that perfect balance of salty-sweetness in Whole Food’s brand of kettle corn.



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