With 10 shops around Chicago and another 17 around the world, Garrett Popcorn proudly markets itself as a tradition in the Windy City. The popcorn shops are typically walk-up shops only, selling nothing but gourmet popcorn in a few different varieties. An outsider would be baffled as to how a business making popcorn could grow to operate so many locations operating full time on prime real estate. That outsider is getting ready for a very pleasant surprise. This isn’t the popcorn you buy at a farmer’s market. It isn’t the popcorn from your kid’s bake sale. It deserves its superior reputation.There are five basic flavors on the menu, a plain version, a buttery version, a caramel version, a cheese version, and what is known as the “Chicago Mix” which is a combination of the cheese and caramel types hand-mixed together. The Chicago Mix should be your first introduction to this scrumptious popcorn; the caramel corn is crunchy and covered in a sweet but not sticky caramel glaze. The cheesey variety is light but packs plenty of savory flavor; it’s less like cheese power and more like cheese sauce. Together they are a fantastic combination of sweet and savory. It’s a great snack.
The caramel corn is also the basis for a few extra varieties. In fact, the already sweet and delicious caramel crisp is also accentuated with four varieties: One each with added almonds, pecans, cashews, and macadamia nuts. It becomes a sumptuous desert item with a serious crunch. The quality of the ingredients that go into this popcorn are the secret. These aren’t the most creative preparations of popcorn, nor are they the most powerful flavors, but where these guys really shine through are how delicious the old fashioned snack comes out. You can almost taste the quality as though it were an ingredient. That said, I do wish there were more flavors of popcorn, some other kind of cheese. Some kettle corn. More variety would only benefit an already quality brand.
The popcorn is made daily in the stores, and I would imagine most of it is consumed fresh the day it is made. The company does, however, sell the popcorn in many decorative tins for corporate events and weddings. In fact, you can customize the tin you order. It’s a pretty cool concept. I will suggest that you finish it off within a week of when it is made. All popcorn goes bad pretty quickly but with Garrett Popcorn it’s particularly apparent. It dries out and hardens all too quickly. Keep that in mind.
For all its other merits though, Garrett has to be my favorite Chicago snack food.
- There are only a few basic varieties, but I would definitely say the Chicago Mix is absolutely the first and best for you to try.
- Note that the popcorn is sold in numerous tins and other things, but also comes in small bags. There are plenty of ways to buy and give.
- Eat the popcorn quickly after you buy. It goes bad quickly.