Looking for the best popcorn kernel brands?
Every popcorn-making area will, naturally, claim that their corn is superior. That's simply the nature of food production. And, while the Amish are certainly known as producers of popcorn the jury's still out on whether theirs truly is the best popcorn available.
Of course, the Amish still use traditional farming methods, so are more likely to produce a kernel that harnesses that old-time taste so many people are keen to enjoy.
The Top 10 Popcorn Kernel Brands
Snappy Popcorn is a third-generation company that was founded in 1940. The company grows, processes, and raises their popcorn in various farms across Iowa. They're known for having very fresh popcorn as they source it directly from the farms that grow it. Today, Snappy is one of the largest concession companies in the United States, and it continues to expand.
These popcorn kernels are low-fat and come in a larger mushroom shape. You get a four-pound jar of kernels, so they're very good value for your money. They're high in fiber and GMO-free as well as containing fewer hulls. They have a very light and an airy quality to them with a slightly sweet taste.
- Snappy White Popcorn
- Snappy Yellow Popcorn
- These smaller kernels have a lot of space for toppings to get stuck.
- There aren't a lot of hulls with this popcorn.
- When you pop these kernels, you don't get a lot of leftover unpopped pieces.
- People commented and said that this popcorn can go stale very quickly.
- The yellow popcorn may have less flavor than the white popcorn.
- The packaging isn't very durable, and people have gotten broken containers.
Bob's Red Mill
Bob's Red Mill was first established in Oregon in 1978. It produces certified organic, natural, and gluten-free milled products including popcorn kernels. It currently produces and sells over 400 products, and the bulk of these are quartz millstone ground whole grains. There are currently 70 stores throughout the United States and Canada with a large online customer base as well.
These specific popcorn kernels come packaged in a bright box with four individual serving bags. They're certified as being 100 percent vegetarian whole grains, and there is no pre-added oil or salt in this mix. They are a great natural source of fiber, and they're picked from high-quality farms from around the United States.
- Bob's Red Mill Whole White Popcorn
- Bob's Red Mill Whole Yellow Popcorn
- These popcorn kernels are organic, gluten free, and Kosher.
- The popcorn itself is smaller and crunchier than other popcorn brands.
- You get no trans-fat with this popcorn, and it is an excellent source of fiber.
- The packaging is very thin and it can get damaged in transit.
- You can't ship this internationally.
- You get a lot of unpopped hulls.
Great Northern Popcorn Company
The Great Northern Popcorn Company has been popular for several years around the United States. They have a variety of things for sale including popcorn machines, snow cone machines, hot dog rollers, cotton candy, popcorn kernels and supplies, candy, snacks, and more. This company is very popular in American theaters and at various outdoor and sporting events, as well as for home consumption.
If you purchase popcorn kernels from the Great Northern Popcorn Company, you usually get an eight-ounce packet of popcorn kernels with a pack of buttery popping oil. Everything is pre-measured, and you get the butter flavored salt to season your popcorn with as well.
- Premium 24 Pack - 8 Ounce Popcorn Portion
- Certified Organic 8 Oz Movie Theater Portion Packs
- The popcorn is sourced straight from local farms for freshness.
- There is no measuring and no mess because everything is pre-portioned.
- This popcorn is certified as non-GMO, Diacetyl free, and gluten free.
In 1919, Orville Redenbacker started growing his own popcorn kernels on his family's farm in Indiana. He started his first business selling his popcorn and put himself through college. He began selling commercially in 1944 with a commercial hybrid popcorn kernel. The company continued to expand, and in 1992, they introduced SmartPop! which was a 94 percent fat-free popcorn.
You can purchase yellow or white popcorn kernels, and it is excellent value for money. You can choose from several sizes, and it is one of the most widely available brands in the United States. It is certified as being non-GMO, and the larger kernels lead to larger pieces of popcorn.
- Gourmet Popcorn Kernels, Original Yellow
- Gourmet Popcorn Kernels, Original White
- You get a lot of value for your money with this brand.
- It is 100 percent natural and non-GMO Project Verified.
- You can make it in the microwave, air popper, stove top, or in an electric popper.
- They can go stale very quickly.
- The packing is flimsy and sometimes arrive with a broken container.
- You may have a problem with getting everything to pop.
Amish Country Popcorn
Amish Country is a company that has been around since 1965. Roy Lehman planted a small popcorn patch for his son Brian, and this slowly expanded as his son aged. When Brian finished school, he expanded his popcorn growing business to twenty-five acres and 47 years later, he's still selling it. Amish Country Popcorn offers thirteen different types of popcorn today.
Amish County Popcorn sells their kernels in six-pound bags, and a popular type is made from white corn. This popcorn is extra small, and what makes Amish County Popcorn unique is that it has virtually no hulls. It is labeled as non-GMO, and this popcorn has a decidedly nutty and sweet taste across each different variety.
- Baby White Extra Small and Tender Popcorn
- Amish Country Popcorn Purple, Blue, Red
- Smaller pieces and almost no hulls.
- Very light and delicate flavor profile.
- You generally have very few unpopped kernels left when you've finished.
- The bag isn't totally airtight and the popcorn can go stale quickly.
- Has a sweet flavor that may be overpowering for some people.
- Doesn't pop well in a hot air popcorn popper.
Paragon International is a concession company based out of the state of Nevada in the United States. They believe in quality over quantity, and they produce popcorn, snow cone machines, and cotton candy at a variety of outdoor entertainment venues and state fairs. It was founded in 1979, and it remains a family-run company to this day with an ever expanding line of products.
This company is known for having very large sizes, and their popcorn kernels are no different. You can purchase a 12.5-pound bag or a 50-pound bag of their Country Harvest popcorn kernels. You get large kernels that turn into large and fluffy yellow popcorn, and you can pop them on the stove or in the microwave.
- Bulk Bag Yellow PopCorn
- You get large fluffy popcorn with these popcorn kernels.
- It's available in large bulk sizes that can be more cost-effective.
- You're able to pop this popcorn in the microwave as well as on the stove top.
- Some people complain this popcorn is virtually tasteless.
- Kernels are harder and smaller than other brands.
- Comes with a lot of hulls.
Wabash Valley Farms
Wabash Valley Farms is a family run business that got its start in 1958. It is currently on the third generation, and all of the popcorn is produced on a string of family farms so you get fresh popcorn. The early 2000s brought a shift from the original popcorn line to Whirley Pop and various concession machines. The customer service team is made up of long-time employees or family members.
This popcorn comes in bulk bags of kernels, microwaveable bags, or smaller three-pound bags in several varieties. Each bag comes with a pre-measured amount of seasoning that you can use or leave off. There is also no trans-fat, so this is a healthier popcorn choice. Finally, the kernels are larger and have a nutty flavor.
- Wabash Valley Farms Gourmet Popping Corn, Baby White
- Features a tender, crisp, and flaky texture.
- You get a very slight nutty flavor profile.
- There are very few husks.
- The amount of unpopped kernels can be really noticeable.
- Oil is included, so these won't work well in an air popper.
- The plastic bag packaging isn't ideal for storage.
Franklin's Gourmet Popcorn
Franklin's Gourmet Popcorn has been in business since 2002, and it was founded by a group of men from Seattle, Washington who wanted to create gourmet popcorn. The company is named after one of the founder's grandfather, and they get their popcorn kernels from USA-sourced family run farms. They also use 100 percent pure coconut oil to pop all of their gourmet popcorn.
You can purchase this popcorn in pre-measured packs that weigh in at 5.8 pounds per pack. Each pack contains your popcorn kernels, 100 percent coconut popping oil, and seasoning salt. This popcorn is certified to be organic, and it contains no GMOs for a healthier, fresher, popcorn experience.
- Franklin's Gourmet Movie Theater Popcorn
- Franklin's Organic Popping Corn
- They've recently updated their ingredients to include Beta Carotene instead of yellow #5 and #6.
- The popcorn is organic and features very few ingredients.
- Each packet comes with pre measured kernels, oil, and seasoning salt.
- Many people commented on this popcorn's high price tag.
- If you pop it in an air popper, the popcorn get get soggy and chewy.
- This is also a drier popcorn and it may not pop as well as other brands.
Jolly Time Popcorn was founded in 1914, and it is the oldest popcorn company in the United States. It was founded because Cloid H. Smith wanted to have quality popcorn at a more cost-effective price. This family-run company has products sold around the world, and it is headquartered in Iowa. The company sold it's one billionth bag of popcorn in 2003, and it continues selling today.
This popcorn comes with an intense buttery flavor, and you make it in the microwave. The popcorn contains zero cholesterol, gluten-free, non-GMO, 100 percent whole grains, and it is high in fiber. You get large and fluffy popcorn from this product, and it's in a no-mess bag.
- Jolly Time Blast O Butter Ultimate Movie Theatre Microwave Popcorn
- This microwave popcorn is in a no-mess bag for easy cleanup.
- You get large and fluffy final product when you make it.
- It has a very rich buttery flavor with a flaky texture.
- Some people say it has an unpleasant aftertaste.
- Very high salt content.
- Others say that you get a stale and chewy texture with this popcorn.
Pop Secret was first launched in 1986, and it gained massive popularity in the early 1990s with the introduction of its Pop Qwiz popcorn. This came in a variety of colors including blue, green, yellow, and a mystery bag. The company also created What's Your Pop Secret Theatre to support and showcase the talents of independent film makers across the United States.
In 2004, Pop Secret came out with individual microwave popcorn bags, and it expanded its popcorn line into several categories including the Classic butter flavor line, the reduced salt and fat Better for You line, Popping Kernels, Sweet and Crunchy, KIDZ, and a Limited Edition line.
- Movie Theater Butter Popcorn
- Big and Fluffy Popcorn Kernels
- These kernels usually fully pop when you make a bag.
- It comes lightly salted with a light buttery taste that isn't overpowering.
- You can make it in a bag in the microwave for less mess.
- The manufactuer recently changed the recipe and people commented that the flavor worsened significantly.
- Some say it now has a waxy and chewy texture.
- You get a greasy film that coats your tongue and mouth when you eat it.
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what community grows the best popcorn kernels: with the right popcorn popper, the answer to “Who makes the best popcorn?”, at least for your neighborhood, is going to be a resounding “Me!”
So, get your parties popping, gather the family around, and have a look at our reviews to see which is the best counter top, air-based popcorn makers for you.
Air-based popcorn makers can typically make popcorn with no need for oil, which is ideal for those who want to enjoy zero-fat snacking (although, remember, not all fats are created equal, and those found in many high-grade popcorn oils are actually good for you). They are also quicker than making popcorn on the stove, which is probably best if you have excited youngsters who are agitating for their favorite snack!