Taste test: caramel corn for the Fourth of July

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Eating through a bag of sweet popcorn stuck together with peanuts and sugary caramel is the perfect way to celebrate America's independence. And, there are plenty of options besides the classic Cracker Jacks. Our panelists found five brands of caramel-coated treats to consider for their Fourth of July picnics.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score

(out of 100)
Crunch 'n Munch 87Quaker Popped Rice Snacks 70Cracker Jack 69
Judges'

comments
Light and airy popcorn bathed in buttery, caramel-flavored sugar was the hallmark of this treat. "This is what caramel corn is all about," said one panelist. "The fresh, light caramel glaze clumps the corn together in heavenly knots of chewy goodness," said another. Judges preferred the Crunch 'n Munch because it wasn't overly sweet and the popcorn was extra fluffy.Although Quaker's caramel-coated option was made with popped rice instead of corn, judges really enjoyed the flavor. "The little round discs of rice cake are very, very crunchy and not overly sweet," said one. The nutritionist on our panel liked the healthier option of this "unique spin on a traditional caramel popcorn." These munchies had a slight salt in the flavor as well. "They are a puffed wafer with a delicious candy coating that is more caramel-y than sweet," said another. "This is a balanced confection of crunch and flavor."No list of favorites would be complete without the traditional Cracker Jack brand. "This is the all-American snack," said one judge. "This caramel corn is best munched by the handful in an outfield seat." The maple flavor of these popped kernels was a familiar and pleasant treat for judges. "I'd recognize this anywhere," said one panelist. "Yummy!"
Would

they buy?
All four judges said yes.All four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$1 for a 6-ounce box from Walmart.$2 for a 3.5-ounce bag from Sweetbay.$1.49 for a 4.5-ounce bag from Publix.


Also Sampled: Pop Weaver ($1 for a 7-ounce bag from Walmart, 42 points) and Orville Redenbacher's Poppy Cock ($2.99 for a 7-ounce bag from Sweetbay, 60 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Wayne Conery, manager of the R-Bar on Treasure Island; Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; and Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to jkeeler@tampabay.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

tampabay.com/things-to-do/food/tastetest.



Serving sizeTwo-thirds cup13 cakesHalf cup
Calories160110120
Fat/Fiber8g / 1g0.5g / 1g2g / 1g
Sugars/Sodium11g / 100mg9g / 310mg15g / 70mg
Carbs/Protein20g / 2g26g / 1g23g / 2g

Taste test: caramel corn for the Fourth of July 07/02/13 [Last modified: Monday, July 1, 2013 2:27pm]

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