Everyone knows the feeling of carrying a bucket of popcorn into the movie theater. It’s such a sought-after experience that many purchase popcorn without attending the movie or buy pop-ready bags to enjoy as one of many snacks at home. There are so many different brands creating snack popcorn that it can be hard to keep track of it all. That challenge of finding a favorite increases when looking at all the different flavors that are available. One can find anything from birthday cake-flavored popcorn to white chocolate popcorn and hot cheese-flavored corn.
While there are many types of snacks available, it’s time to focus on just popcorn. This list looks at the top 10 brands in the snack popcorn business. Everything from well-known companies like Smartfood, Cheetos, and Herr’s alongside lesser-known brands like Double Good and Safe & Fair. Looking for something healthy? There are options here to fit that need. Want something that puts the "junk" in junk food? Check out this list. Everything from taste, variety of flavors, price, and availability were considered when putting together this list of the top 10 snack popcorn brands.
10. Boom Chicka Pop
Boom Chicka Pop is a snack popcorn brand that fits into a healthy category for the health-conscious customer. This company comes with everything from ready-to-eat bags to microwave popcorn, and seasonal flavors. What makes Boom Chicka Pop stand out is that the company built itself as a whole-grain version of popcorn. The creators of the product boast about offering popcorn that is gluten-free, vegan, and has no artificial preservatives. This can be an important factor for those looking for a snack they can feel good about enjoying. Additionally, Boom Chicka Pop offers a variety of flavors. Some of these may be familiar to other brands, such as white cheddar and sea salt. But the company also offers unique seasonal flavors such as white chocolate peppermint and Swiss Miss flavored.
While this variety is great for those looking for a healthy option for snack popcorn, the lack of some of the ingredients mentioned above lower the taste quality of the product. For example, the sea salt and white cheddar flavors do not have the same "kick" as some of the other brands on this list. And the Swiss Miss flavor, while a great idea, does not have the type of rich taste one would expect from a mix of popcorn and hot chocolate. The variety of options will help Boom Chick Pop as a favorite for those looking for a healthy version of snack popcorn, but the lack of overall taste within those flavors will be a problem for those without the health focus.
9. Trader Joe’s Popcorn
Trader Joe’s products are billed as a healthier option than what are typically found in major grocery stores, and the same can be said for its snack popcorn. But not only is this a healthy option, but it also comes in a wide range of flavors. Key Lime Kettle Popcorn, Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn, and White Truffle Popcorn are just a few of the many flavors that can be found on TJ’s shelves. These unique flavors offer great taste with a mix of ingredients one would not frequently find with popcorn. Take the White Truffle flavor for example, this version offers French sea salt and Italian white truffles to round out its taste.
What is also worth pointing out is that unlike some of the other healthy, and specialty options on this list, Trader Joe’s Popcorn is not as expensive. The challenge that knocks this brand down on our list is that Trader Joe’s is not readily available in all major markets. The flavors are varied and plentiful with Trader Joe’s Popcorn, but finding it is the biggest detractor from it being higher on the list.
8. Safe & Fair
When looking for variety, Safe & Fair should be the popcorn option of choice. Many of the brands on this list contain the types of favors that real popcorn fans will easily recognize, but what stands out about Safe & Fair is that this company not only offers those flavors that would be considered normal, but this brand also pulls out the stops with some original flavors that cannot be found anywhere else.
Safe & Fair popcorn includes flavors such as Birthday Cake, Binge Watching Buttery, Everything Bagel, Dill Pickle, Strawberry Shortcake, and Wedding Cake among others. Uniqueness is the name of the game with this brand and it is delivered with all these options available for the public’s taste buds. Safe & Fair not only offers seasoned popcorn, but options that are drizzled with toppings as additional flavors such as the aforementioned Birthday Cake variety.
Being such a unique brand places Safe & Fair in the position to charge high prices, and the company does just that. On the company website, a pack of two Safe & Fair popcorn bags costs $13, which breaks down to $6 per bag. That doesn’t include the cost of shipping the order to your location. The end result is a high cost for any snack product, and is the reason why Safe & Fair falls down on this list.
Pipcorn is the brand that brings together the show "Shark Tank" and popcorn. Siblings Jeff and Jennifer Martin appeared on Season 6 of the show, and that experience helped launch the product to success, reaching more than $1 million in sales in fewer than three months after that appearance.
What helped Pipcorn stand out compared to its competition is the use of small heirloom kernels over the standard size and shape found in other products. Pipcorn’s company website breaks down why the heirloom kernel is so important to its success. Every detail is explained, from how air pollination improves the quality of the kernel, to the resiliency of the seeds, to a crunchier and more flavorful taste. They even make the bold statement of "higher quality corn for a higher quality snack," and they’re not wrong. Their mini popcorn is available in multiple flavors such as sea salt, spicy cheddar, and truffle.
The challenge with Pipcorn is finding it in major grocery stores, which brings its ranking down on this list. Ordering the product in bulk from the company website is the best option, as you can get a 24-pack "snack pack" box for $40, which equals approximately $1.67 per unit. Still, that’s a lot of popcorn, and there’s a good chance you don’t need that much. It’s much easier to purchase singular bags for the majority of brands in this list.
The little black bags of Smartfood popcorn can be found in vending machines and checkout aisles throughout the country. For nearly four decades the brand has provided what it calls "quality ingredients" in a popcorn snack for customers to enjoy. As with other options on this list, Smartfood popcorn is gluten-free without the artificial flavors that can be found in other brands. Plus, the brand boasts a low-calorie count of only 60 calories per cup.
Many will recognize the White Cheddar flavor, but there are many others such as the Movie Theater flavor, or the Flamin’ Hot White Cheddar flavor. Each one of these options is flavorful, perfect for someone looking for a snack popcorn to satiate their taste buds. But what makes Smartfood special and worthy of this list is that the brand also includes other specialty recipes and snacks featuring popcorn. This includes White Chocolate Easter Popcorn, Cheesy Taco Popcorn, Spicy Jalapeño Ranch, and more. Seeing Smartfood tailor its product to offer new takes on snack popcorn makes it an easy addition to this top ten list.
5. Skinny Pop
Skinny Pop is the highest-rated snack popcorn on this list that would be considered a healthy option. The brand receives that designation because it is non-GMO, gluten-free, use sunflower oil instead of regular cooking oil, and has very little salt. But this brand is especially attractive for those who count calories, as Skinny Pop comes in at only 39 calories per cup. This makes it the top option for those who want to pack a snack they enjoy, without fearing they’ve ruined their meal plan for the day.
Additionally, Skinny Pop offers a variety of flavors that include Aged White Cheddar, Twist of Lime, and Dairy-Free White Cheddar. For those looking for a sweet taste with their popcorn, Skinny Pop has new flavors with Sweet and Salty Kettle or Sweet Vanilla Kettle. If you’re looking for another way to get in a healthy snack, the popcorn mini cake is another product offered by this company for your enjoyment. While this option is great for those looking to eat well and meet their health goals, the lack of these ingredients lowers the enjoyment of the product’s taste when compared to the higher-ranked brands on this list. Still, it’s a solid option and by far the best of the healthy bunch in our minds.
4. Double Good Gourmet Popcorn
Those that are familiar with popcorn sales for fundraisers will recognize the Double Good Popcorn brand. This company offers a wide range of flavors such as Caramel-Diem, Chi-Town Chow Down, Paint It Milk Chocolate, and Holla-Peño. Having such a diverse group of flavors helps when using this product to raise money for a sports team or school program.
The company boasts that its products are made by hand, which attributes to the high quality found in each bag. Plus, they are purposely manufactured in small batches, which is another reason why so much flavor is found in every single bag. However, that uniqueness also impacts its rating on this list. Double Good popcorn is only available through the company website and it costs $9 per bag. Each bag contains five cups, which equals about $1.80 per cup. That is a very expensive price, and while it is good for fundraising, its lack of availability prevents this product from being in the hands of more customers.
Cretors is another small-batch popcorn brand on this list. As with Double Good, Cretors is hand-crafted and has a lot of flavor in its small bags. The brand boasts a lot of different flavors such as the Four Cheese Mix, Dark Chocolately Drizzle, and Farmhouse Butter.
Cretors is the highest-rated gourmet popcorn option on this list, and it is more widely available than Double Good, as this product is available in major grocery store outlets. The brand even goes beyond that as it is offered on Amazon directly from the company website. If you’re looking to buy in person, Cretors offers a valuable store locator that even lists what flavors are available near you.
Even though individual bags can still be found at prices around $7 per bag, packs of six can be found for $26. This is still more expensive than the top two options on this list but ranks better than the other specialty options named. However, that cost still keeps Cretors below the top two options for anyone looking for the best snack popcorn that is also friendly to your wallet.
Herr’s Popcorn is a brand that is easily recognizable and available to many customers. While this product may not boast all of the health-focused ingredients as other products on this list, it is still a gluten-free option for anyone in need of that dietary benefit. But if you are looking for a healthy option, Herr’s does offer two versions of Light Popcorn to fulfill that need. Herr’s Popcorn comes in many different flavors that are usually available in major grocers and convenience stores. These options include Cheese, White Cheddar, Hot Cheese, and two specialty options in Puff’N’Corn and Fire Roasted Sweet Corn Popcorn. It’s no secret that this popcorn comes with a flavorful taste that makes it hard to eat a small amount at a time.
Where Herr’s fails to overtake the number one snack popcorn on this list is due to the saltiness that can be found in the product. Take the Herr’s Cheese Popcorn, for example. While it has an enjoyable taste, it is salty and best enjoyed with a drink on hand to help quench your thirst. That is a consistent issue across all of the flavors and enough to knock the brand down one spot, but not enough to keep it further down the list.
If you’re looking for a brand of snack popcorn that is flavorful, available at multiple locations, cost-effective, and offers many different flavors, Cheetos Popcorn is the one for you. When compared across the entirety of this list, Cheetos best embodies those attributes and that is what makes it the top offering on this list.
Cheetos Popcorn is available in three flavors, Cheddar, Flamin’ Hot, and Cheddar Jalapeño. Each one tastes great and provides a unique take on the traditional cheese-flavored popcorn. It is the Flamin’ Hot variety that stands out among the group, as it makes use of the same flavors that makes the chips so popular. The Cheddar version also has a strong flavor in each bite, without the lingering saltiness that can be found in Herr’s Popcorn. Cheddar Jalapeño is the newest option for the three and is a good mix of two flavors, while also being distinct enough to stand on its own.
The brand is available in major grocery stores, and gas stations, plus available for purchase online. What’s great about Cheetos is that there is no shortage of sizes as party-sized bags, holiday tins, and individual snack sizes are available to meet any need. The company website also offers a store locator that breaks down which flavors are available near you. Combining these attributes together makes Cheetos Popcorn stand out as the top of all brands, and extremely difficult to put down after every bite.