Popcorn: the new crisps?

It’s crunchy, savoury and less calorific than crisps: popcorn is coming out of the cinema and hitting delis and supermarkets as the answer to all your snacking needs this year. Or so food marketeers would have it.

Now, to be clear, when I say popcorn, I’m talking about gourmet popcorn, not Butterkist. In the last few years we’ve had various packets of popcorn sent to us to try, all with weird and wacky names (hello, Lord Poppington!) and unusual flavours (Madras and black onion seed for one). And the latest was a packet of Metcalfe’s Skinny Topcorn, heat and sweet flavour and sweet and salt.

Do they taste good? Oh yes. I really liked that there is a combination of salt and sweet – Matt’s favourite choice at the cinema – and the heat and sweet flavour was a tongue-tingling sweet chilli. Metcalfe’s is a brand founded by one of the men behind Pret, so he obviously has his finger on the pulse of Britain’s snacking culture.

Metcalf's Popcorn

But there were some things I didn’t like. Popcorn isn’t crisps – it’s not as satisfying – and that’s something that holds true for all the brands trying to make it as the ‘new crisps’. Much as I like popcorn, I’m still more likely to eat it in the cinema or make it at home rather than buy it while I’m out on the run. And I don’t want popcorn next to my sandwich in the pub. There’s a place for popcorn, but once you get into the bright sunlight outside a cinema foyer, I’m not quite sure what it is.

I also took a big dislike to some of the slogans on the packet – “Good with lunch, after the gym, any time. The Ultimate Snack” and the suggestion that because they’re only 115 calories per pack, they are good for you. The whole idea that eating popcorn can make you skinny is daft, as is the thought that anyone would ever eat popcorn after working out in the gym. But if you’re counting calories and need a small snack, I guess it could work (though, wouldn’t an apple be better?) Is there a good time to eat popcorn, apart from obviously while watching a film? Direct all creative suggestions to Metcalfe’s.

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