This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are obsessed with eating, drinking, and buying right now.
After walking to the train, riding to Hoboken, walking to another train, whooshing to the World Trade Center, climbing two staircases, soaring up 25 floors, staring at a screen for nine hours, then doing it all in reverse, there is nothing more enticing than something salty and crunchy. What that something is, I am not picky. I have gone through a Triscuits phase, taralli phase, buttered popcorn phase, cannabuttered popcorn phase, salt-and-vinegar potato chips phase, barbecue potato chips phase.
But this current phase? This is the best one yet: the PopCorners phase.
PopCorners Variety Pack
For those unacquainted, PopCorners are chips that are actually popcorn, or popcorn that are actually chips. The whole point is that you can’t tell the difference. They are the triple threat of processed foods, the JLo of the snack aisle: crunchy, corny, convenient. Picture: a triangle shape, toasty scent, and more nooks and crannies than an English muffin.
How is this magic possible? Same as that Google feature that lets you hum a song that’s been stuck in your head and then tells you what that song is, it’s the sort of modern marvel I will never understand. And I’m okay with that. According to PopCorners, the manufacturing process involves “a patented air-popping technique that combines heat and moisture under compression.”
This is a blessing. If I knew how to make PopCorners myself, I’d be tempted to, well, make PopCorners myself—just like I have made my own seasoned popcorn, potato chips, and cheese crackers. Instead, I can spend that time mulling over flavors. Maybe white cheddar to go with a just-cracked lime seltzer? Sour cream and onion to accompany a cold martini?
My favorite is the least flashy—sea salt—because it reminds me of the popcorn my mom and I have snuck into movie theaters for decades: corn, oil, salt, done. Except I don’t have to make it. And I can watch the movie on my couch.
And sure, you could dip savory PopCorners in hummus or guacamole or pickle dip. But to me, there is no joy more joyful than collapsing into a chair and eating straight out of the bag, just as my cat reminds me that it is high time for her dinner. I’ll get up in a second, I swear.