What Makes Great Premium Caramel Popcorn?

Looking for a sweet treat for the movies? Caramel popcorn is perfect! The aroma and flavor profiles of a high quality caramel popcorn snack should lead with caramel and popcorn intensities. There may also be buttery, molasses and vanilla notes present. The taste profile should lead with sweet followed by salt and then bitter. The bitter intensity should not go above the salt intensity. The texture should possess an initial crunchy bite followed by a crispy chew. Some adhesiveness is expected, but the popcorn should not be overly chewy. If hard kernels are present, they should be minimal. The snack should appear to be mostly whole with minimal broken pieces and minimal clumping.

Tasting terms

  • sweet

    One of the basic tastes; often considered pleasing while exhibiting characteristics of sugar. Example: Honey, ripe fruits and syrup all have a pronounced sweet component.

  • aroma

    The smell that emanates from food. Along with appearance, texture, flavor and taste, aroma is one of the five dimensions used to evaluate a product. Example: Brownies should have an aroma that includes chocolate as well as egg, toasty and sweet notes.

  • flavor

    A combination of a food's basic taste and its accompanying aroma, flavor is the distinctive taste of a food or ingredient while it is in the mouth. Along with aroma, appearance, texture and taste, flavor is one of the five dimensions considered by ChefsBest Master Tasters. Example: Chocolate chip cookies should have a moderate chocolate flavor accompanied by a slightly lower level of complex dough flavor that includes egg, flour, vanilla and brown sugar notes.

  • taste profile

    The expected levels of each basic taste in any given food; defines the overall taste balance. Example: The taste profile of baking chocolate is led by bitterness that is balanced by a low amount of sweetness.

  • salt

    One of the basic tastes; tasting of or containing salt. Example: Potato chips, sea water and cured meats all have a strong salt component.

  • bitter

    One of the basic tastes; often considered harsh and unpleasant in abundance, but a key basic taste for foods like coffee and dark chocolate. Example: Unripened fruit, aspirin and coffee all have bitter components.

  • bitter intensity

    The measurement of perceived bitterness in a particular food. Example: Brewed coffee sometimes has a strong bitter intensity.

  • salt intensity

    A measurement of the perceived saltiness in a particular food. Example: A regular tortilla chip will have a higher salt intensity than an unsalted tortilla chip.

  • texture

    A dimension used to organize attributes like mouthfeel, graininess and initial bite, it is one of the five dimensions used by ChefsBest Master Tasters to evaluate food. Example: Glazed popcorn will have a crunch texture. The texture of milk chocolate should be creamy and smooth.

  • chew

    The texture of a food as it is being chewed, as opposed to the texture of the first bite. Example: High-quality beef jerky should be tender but have a long chew.

  • adhesiveness

    The degree to which some foods stick to the tongue, teeth or upper palate; not to be confused with "cohesiveness," which is the degree to which food sticks together. Example: Peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth; white bread sticking to the teeth.