Dining With Denise Neil

Celebrate National Caramel Popcorn Day with a free bag

Buy a big bag of caramel corn at The Popcorner on Thursday and you’ll get a cute little snack bag for free.
Buy a big bag of caramel corn at The Popcorner on Thursday and you’ll get a cute little snack bag for free. The Wichita Eagle

Thursday is National Caramel Popcorn Day, and that’s a holiday I can get behind.

One local popcorn purveyer is celebrating with a giveaway.

The Popcorner, whose owners Kirsten Bender and Roger Placzek have stores in Andover and one in west Wichita, will give away a snack-sized bag of its Old-Time Caramel popcorn on Thursday with the purchase of a bag of any caramel corn.

The original Popcorner is at 528 N. Andover Road in Andover. A second location opened at 2121 N. Tyler Road, near Jimmie’s Diner, last fall.

Bender got started in the popcorn business in high school, when she worked part time at Vic’s Corn Popper in Andover and learned all the secrets of making popcorn. She earned a business degree in college, and when the owners of Vic’s decided to sell the shop, they offered it to her. She changed the name and operates it in the same location as the original.

The stores carry several sweet and savory flavors of popcorn in addition to fudge, popcorn balls and Rice Krispie’s Treats. They also offer gift baskets.

Both locations of The Popcorner will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday.

In honor of the day, allow me to share with you one of my favorite recipes for caramel corn, which I got years ago from my friend, Alice.

ALICE’S CARAMEL CORN

2 sticks butter or margarine

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. baking soda

air-popped popcorn (8-10 cups)

Peanuts (unsalted, honey-roasted or Spanish)

Important note: After you pop all the corn, sift through it well to remove all the unpopped kernels. Otherwise, someone could break a tooth.

Combine first five ingredients in a large pot or saucepan. Heat over medium to medium-high heat until boiling. Boil, stirring constantly, for five minutes. Remove from heat and add baking soda. Stir. Syrup will kind of whooosh and turn a nice caramel color.

Pour over popcorn and peanuts in a large roasting pan. Stir until everything is coated well. Bake at 250 degrees for one hour, stirring well every 10 minutes. Cool on wax paper, then

transfer to airtight container.

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