When it comes to truffled-up foods, I’m a sucker for them. Despite the fact that I’m truly no fan of regular mushrooms, for some reason truffles get my heartbeat racing. Perhaps that’s why, in 2009, I distinctly remember tasting a really classy truffled popcorn. This past summer, I recognized the brand: It was 479˚ Popcorn, and it was again sitting out for sampling at a booth in the Jacob Javits Center’s Fancy Food Show. I snagged a heavenly bite of their Black Truffle & White Cheddar popcorn, chatted, and had to run off. Jean Arnold, creator of this premium popcorn from San Francisco, recently sent me five boxes of their very unique flavors so that I could taste them in the comfort of my own home.
The popcorn arrived in a fancy schmancy box, with five fine flavors packed carefully inside. Anyone opening a package of 479˚ Popcorn sees the fine photography and colorful packaging with popcorn adages, such as, “Somewhere far, far away, an Italian nonna is urging you to eat the whole box.” It’s a definite interior-designer-meets-superior-popcorn-popper vibe one gets upon seeing the polished packaging and thought-out design. Even their contact number (1-888-479-YUMM) is unbearably cute and thought-out. Not to criticize, for the founder definitely conveys that this ain’t yo’ daddy’s buttered popcorn. No, this is precision hand-popped heirloom popcorn made with only the finest flavorings and ingredients. It's organic, too. 479 degrees, by the way, is the optimal temperature Jean discovered for letting popcorn really pop, giving it a consistently crunchy, full-bodied flavor.
Because I’d had such a positive experience with their truffled popcorn, I decided to see if they could do sweet as well as they did salty. The first box I opened was their Black Sesame Caramel. Though it didn’t look quite as amazing as the lovely photography on the box promised (though really, what packaged food does?), it was still nice and chewy, with a sweetly addictive bite. I found myself eating it a lot that first day, and I couldn’t seem to stop. Next I opened the Vietnamese Cinnamon Sugar. Having recently been to Vietnam, I wanted to see if I could taste the exoticism in this cleverly named popcorn. Really, if you see something flavored cinnamon sugar, you might get it, but Vietnamese Cinnamon Sugar? I’m grabbing that off the shelf, taste buds ready and waiting. Despite my excitement, the flavor wasn’t everything I hoped and dreamed. It had a lovely texture and a sweet finish, but was fairly lightly flavored. I wanted more oomph, not a delicate touch!
Next came the Madras Coconut Curry & Cashews, a flavor I was extremely excited for. Given my recent rave review of Dulcet’s Mild Indian Curry Ketchup, I was thrilled to taste another tangy interpretation in popped goods. But once again, I just felt that there could have been more. More flavor, more cashews. Perhaps I have demanding taste buds, but if I’m going to the trouble to purchase gourmet flavored popcorn, I don’t want to hunt for the striking flavors; I went them to let their presence be known! Perhaps I’m being a little tough. It was a very good flavor, and I am admittedly that person who pours on tons of Sriracha sauce onto anything I’m eating. I then tried the sea salt caramel, which tasted a lot like their Black Sesame Caramel. It had that nice caramel coating with a touch of a salty bite, though I could have used more contrast. And finally, the Black Truffle & White Cheddar popcorn was there, waiting for a taste. Deliciously light, with equal amounts of white cheddar flavor and addictive black truffle flecks, this popcorn was still the standout. It was just, well, perfect. It really couldn’t be any better without being overindulgent and overwhelming.
It’s not every day that one gets to taste popcorn that’s flavored with class instead of cheap chocolate and lots of sticky goo. 479˚ Popcorn may be on the light side with some of their flavorings, but overall their popcorn just looks and tastes like a bite of, well, fun sophistication.
Packs of 5 flavors - $33-$38
Handmade in San Francisco, California