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7 Tips for Buying Popcorn From Local Expert Kevin Pyles

Columbia resident Kevin Pyles has reviewed over 400 types of popcorn.

The Scream mask-like piece of popcorn that led Kevin Pyles to start his PopcornFace blog. Credit: Kevin Pyles
The Scream mask-like piece of popcorn that led Kevin Pyles to start his PopcornFace blog. Credit: Kevin Pyles

Kevin Pyles' love of popcorn began in earnest in 2005. That's when he found a piece of popcorn that resembled the Scream mask.

Since then the Columbia resident has been cataloguing the world of popcorn on his "Pop Blog" where he has reviewed over 400 types of popcorn from over 220 different companies. 

With the holiday season approaching, and gourmet popcorn a trendy item, according to Time Magazine, we thought we'd share with you seven popcorn tips from Pyles.

1. The absolute best producer of gourmet popcorn is Joe & Seph's, accoridng to Pyles. Located in the United Kingdom this small popcorn maker offers flavors like Gin and Tonic, Mint Chocolate and Pyles' favorite, Mince Pie.

2. Don't buy microwaveable popcorn. Pyles says the companies use too many artificial ingredients and it's much cheaper to buy kernels, then heat them up on the stove in pot with a small amount of oil.

3. Try TinyButMighty popcorn. Pyles says these kernels are grown in Iowa by the company's owner, Farmer Gene, and are the best on the market.

4. A Whirley Pop is probably the cheapest way to make the most delicious popcorn at home. Pyles said this small pot that sits on a stove top evenly pops the corn and gets it to the right crispiness.

5. Don't use air poppers. These machines, which use hot air, don't get the temperature hot enough to make the popcorn pop quickly, causing the popcorn to be chewy, says Pyles.

6. For American gourmet popcorn, buy from Garrett's. Garrett's is the gold standard for popcorn in Chicago, and possibly the nation, says Pyles. The company is known for their caramel crisp and their cheese popcorn, which are often combined to make "The Chicago Mix."

7. Stay away from the "confetti" popcorn. Pyles said this type of colorful popcorn, often dyed colors like red, blue or green, requires artificial flavors that ruin the taste. He said, "It's made for kids."

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