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Colored popcorn is a popped corn product that uses natural or artificial ingredients to change the corn’s natural yellow or white color. Food companies, and those who make colored popcorn at home, use a wide range of ingredients to dye the popcorn different colors. Some common versions of colored popcorn use simple food coloring or powdered sugar. These can be used to make popcorn in an array of bright colors, from bright green to hot pink or crimson. Some of these dyes and agents don’t change the flavor of the popcorn significantly, but are mainly used for visual appeal.
Other kinds of popcorn coloring actually change the taste of the popcorn. One example is caramel. Adding caramel to popcorn sweetens the final product, while turning the popcorn a darker brown color. Similar ingredients such as cinnamon or brown sugar can also be used. Some varieties of this colored popcorn are referred to as “caramel corn” or “kettle corn.” These coatings can also change the texture of the popcorn, making it chewy instead of its regular crisp texture; this leads to a wide array of opinions on tastes for kettle corn and similar products.
Food makers might also use the term “colored popcorn” to refer to corn popped from kernels of different colors. The conventional color of unpopped popcorn kernels is a golden yellow. When darker or artificially colored kernels are used, the product may be called colored popcorn, although the color of the kernel may or may not affect the color of the popcorn substantially.
In some colored types of popcorn products, food makers dye the popped kernels in a set variety of complimentary colors. These are separated within a larger container by specific dividers or smaller containers. This provides a specific visual appeal in some colored popcorn consumer products. These may also be combined with other snacks, like corn chips, cheese crisps, or other similar snack foods.
There are many ways to make colored versions of popcorn. It can be made in a microwave oven, or colored by hand after popping. In some cases, the colored popcorn is “glued” together by a bonding agent to make “popcorn balls,” which may have additional flavorings added. These are often sold at venues where street food vendors are common.