The management of Garrett Popcorn Shop insists that the product it makes is NOT caramel corn. It is CaramelCrisp, a trademarked name for a foodstuff that, to us, looks a lot like caramel corn. Whatever. We have no desire to argue with the place that makes our all-time favorite caramel-coated, popcorn-based snack. CaramelCrisp is simply sensational.
Generally speaking, candy-coated popcorn is a trivial junk food. CaramelCrisp is serious and soulful, its taste and texture dramatically more important than any other kind of candied corn. In fact, it scarcely tastes candied. The popcorn itself is a tender, earthy note within its caramel sheath, which is deeply buttery and has a dark flavor that teeters at the edge of tasting burnt. Like the singed crust atop a well-made crème brulee, the corn’s coat smacks of fire at least as much as sugar.
Also on the menu in this little Michigan Avenue Snack Shop (one of several Garrett’s about town) is rich cheese corn and unbelievably, extremely buttered corn. Some connoisseurs call for “a mix,” which is equal halves of cheese corn and CaramelCrisp, making for a sweet/savory one-two punch. Even a small bag is tremendously rich and filling, but we find it impossible to stop eating, even when hunger becomes only a distant memory. With this foodstuff, a sated appetite’s cease-and-desist message has no effect on tastebuds, which crave more, more, and more of this amazing stuff until the world’s supply is gone.
Garrett mail-orders all its products (call 888-4-POPCORN), but it’s special fun to stop in the store, where as 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.