For tonight’s edition of Fiery Friday, I’ve got a type of product that I don’t think I have ever reviewed. Specifically, I am looking at a bag of popcorn. In my life up to this point, I have only ever encountered one legitimately spicy popcorn, though there are bound to be others (and I’ve never really gone out and searched). Still, I’m a red-blooded American, and I’ve been to movie theaters and theme parks plenty of times, so I do know my way around a popcorn bag. My real hope for this product is that it manages to avoid the pitfall of pre-packaged popcorn, in that the stuff almost never tastes as good as freshly-popped varieties.
Fire Dancer Popcorn Seasoning (sugar, salt, dehydrated onion, jalapeno pepper, spices (including paprika and cheyenne [sic] pepper), dehydrated garlic, torula yeast), Popcorn Kernels, Oil
That’s the best I can come up with, since there’s no actual list of ingredients on my bag. The actual product here seems to be the Fire Dancer Popcorn Seasoning, but I don’t know what’s actually in that mix. The website doesn’t want to tell me anything, and the one link to purchase the seasoning itself doesn’t work. A couple of seconds of Google-fu, though, led me to Amazon.com’s listing for the seasoning, which is where I dug up the list of components you see up there.
It looks like popcorn and seasoning. I’m not being sarcastic; there’s just not much more to look at here. I can say that the seasoning, at least on the kernels that are visible in the bag’s “window,” don’t appear to be over-coated with the stuff, so that’s good.
Smell and Taste:
I’m not too sure what I’m smelling. There’s nothing sweet or spicy about the aroma; if anything, it’s the garlic and onion that stand out, but only barely in both cases. Otherwise, it just smells like popcorn. In terms of flavor, the seasoning isn’t exactly a strong, overpowering blend, and doesn’t really carry the flavors of the jalapeno or cayenne peppers. It’s more like a generic “spice” flavor, and not really sweet, despite sugar being the first ingredient in the seasoning blend.
The name of the game is “Sweet and Spicy,” but this bag of popcorn fails to come through on both accounts. Its heat barely registers at first; even after a few bites, once the burn starts to build, it never gets past a Mild, meaning non-chileheads can be daring with this stuff and finish a whole bag without breaking a sweat. I’m not sure what to say about the flavor. It’s not awful, but it just comes across as more disappointing than anything else. I can definitely eat it, but I’m not excited about it or anything. This one’s getting a Neutral from me. In the end, I would rather eat a bag of store-bought cheese popcorn, because at least that stuff delivers on its promise.
Normally this would be the “Suggested Uses” section, but I think there is some room for improvement with this product. Frankly, a sweet and spicy popcorn needs to stand out more in both respects. I’m glad that Fire Dancer didn’t go the route of making this a truly sweet, caramel-corn style product, but it still fails to deliver as it is. I have no idea what the sugar concentration here is, but it could stand to be more prominent. Likewise, the peppers really need to shine. I would not be at all offended if the blend had a stronger jalapeno flavor to it. As it is, all I really get is that dull onion/garlic flavor, which does nothing to sell the “Sweet and Spicy” name.
If anyone from Fire Dancer reads this and happens to make any modifications to the recipe (or if there is already a product that might be more up my alley, based on my recommendations), please don’t hesitate to send me some. I think there’s a lot of room for growth here.