Legendary | Worth driving from anywhere
Garrett Popcorn Shop | Original and Best Chicago Mix
Review by: Michael Stern
The people at Garrett Popcorn insist that the product they make is NOT caramel corn. They call it CaramelCrisp. The trademarked foodstuff looks a lot like caramel corn, but we’re not going to quibble. Whatever you call it, the candied popcorn produced by this singular company is one of the great bites anywhere. And it forms the basis of an even more amazing item now known far beyond Garrett as a Chicago Mix. (In fact, Garrett calls theirs Garrett Mix.)
Generally speaking, candy-coated popcorn doesn’t ask to be taken seriously. CaramelCrisp demands attention. It is profound and soulful. Its flavor and texture are dramatically more important than any other kind of candied corn. Really, it scarcely tastes candied. The popcorn itself is a tender, earthy note within a caramel sheath. The golden candy coat is deeply buttery. Its dark flavor teeters at the edge of tasting burnt. Like the singed crust atop a well-made crème brulee, CaramelCrisp smacks of fire as much as sugar.
The Great Chicago Mix
Also on the menu are cheese corn and buttered corn. The former will quickly turn your fingers orange; the latter will make them glisten. Long ago, connoisseurs began calling for “a mix.” That’s equal halves of cheese corn and CaramelCrisp, making for a sweet/savory one-two punch. Even a small bag of what most people call Chicago Mix can knock you for a loop. Simply put, we cannot stop eating it. Even as hunger becomes only a distant memory, we grab for another handful. With this foodstuff, a sated appetite’s cease-and-desist message has no effect on taste buds, which crave more, more, and more until the world’s supply is gone.
Garrett now has shops around Chicago and around the world. You can mail-order its products. But it is special fun to stop in the store. Here you wait in line to place your order. You watch the corn being popped, the butter being poured, and the CaramelCrisp stirred so it sticks together just a little bit but does not clump.
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