For some reason this is the time of year that I think about caramel corn. Not sure why, but it seems like a fall thing. Typically caramel popcorn is made with a sugar or molasses syrup that has been heated until it browns & becomes thick. It is then mixed with the popcorn & cooled. Some varieties contain nuts, such a peanuts, pecans, almonds, or cashews. Half Nuts Popcorn, locally made in Wrightsville, has added some different & unusual flavors. Stop by their store at 450 S. Front Street, & you might be able to find tutti-frutti, caramel apple, banana, blueberry, bubble gum, cherry, cinnamon, grape, green apple, hot caramel, lemon, orange, party cake, and peanut butter and jelly. You can also get the caramel drizzled with chocolate, with or without peanuts. Fisher’s Popcorn from the DelMarva Area boasts a few other unique flavors, Old Bay Seasoned Caramel Corn, Pumpkin Spice Caramel, & Caramel Dusted with White Cheddar.
The combination of caramel and corn dates back at least as far as the 1890’s. At the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, Cracker Jack was introduced. Two German brothers, immigrated to the United States and opened a popcorn store in Chicago. They experimented with different flavors and toppings. Their new concoction, a mixture of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses, quickly became a hit. Someone who sampled the product exclaimed “That’s a crackerjack!”, which at the time meant “of great quality”. The name stuck and in 1896 the brothers registered Cracker Jack and began mass producing it.
My mother-in-law, Ina Krotzer, was known for her caramel corn. My daughter, Aubri Krotzer Sweeney, recently started to make this, & it has become a huge hit with her family & neighborhood. When I was looking for recipes for my blog she suggested that I share this one. I hope you try it, let me know how it turns out!
GRANDMA KROTZER’S CARAMEL CORN
4 quarts popped corn
I cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup dark Karo
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Bring all to a boil stirring constantly. Cook 5 minutes. Pour over popcorn in large shallow pan. Put in oven at 250 degrees for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Store in a covered container.