Purdue alum Orville Redenbacher might have grandfathered Indiana’s connection to the puffed kernel (thanks to a custom corn hybrid and masterful marketing), but local chefs and snack food–enablers keep making creative batches of gourmet popcorn to eat by the handful.
Not Just Popcorn
Sweet ladies work the counter at this Edinburgh stalwart, directing newbies to sealed bags of richly coated puffs, from Poppycock to Dill Pickle. If you can pick only one (of the 400 hand-batched flavors in the shop), make it the cheddar-and-caramel mix … or the Salt & Vinegar … or the Candy Apple. 114 E. Main Cross St., Edinburgh, 812-526-8256, notjustpopcorn.com
Just Pop In
Any time this Indy-based company puts a local spin on a new flavor, the result is as craveable as Hoosier Momma Bloody Mary (seasoned with tomato, Worcestershire, horseradish, and citrus sea salt), Smoking Goose Caramel Bacon + Cheddar (a salty-sweet ying-yang), and 4 Birds Bakery Oats & Maple Cookie Crumbles (a tribute to the gourmet-market cookie that got its start on the dessert menu at H2O Sushi). Visit justpopinonline.com for locations.
A farmers-market favorite since 2011 with a shop in Zionsville, Inga’s transforms certified-organic Indiana popcorn into flavors like Snickerdoodle and Cheddar Jalapeño. If caramel corn studded with pecans isn’t sweet enough for you, try the Birthday Cake With Icing. 140 S. Main St., Zionsville, 317-344-2000, ingaspopcorn.com
Those little paper bags that servers at The Alexander hotel’s eye-catching lounge whisk out to just-seated guests contain a snack with crack-like allure: popcorn laced with salt and truffle oil, prepared in a regular hot-oil popper behind the bar. 333 S. Delaware St., 317-624-8200, thealexander.com
For an extra $2, the southside restaurant will give its flavored popcorn—offered as a pre-dinner table snack—a bath in liquid nitrogen. The kernels freeze into savory pellets that thaw on the tongue. Pop one in, close your mouth, and chew to achieve the desired dragon’s-breath effect. Tip: Try not to giggle. 299 W. Main St., Greenwood, 317-215-4164, reverygreenwood.com
This article appeared in the September 2015 issue.