Friday, January 21, 2022

Popcorn Meets Doughnuts

Smartfood Popcorn: Krispy Kreme Glazed Donut vs Cinnamon Sugar Donut

I love Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts, and I am lucky enough to have one relatively close to where I live, so I am very familiar with how they taste, but I find that they are more of a textural experience than a flavor one. They're sweet, doughy, and when they're warm, they melt in your mouth. I could eat a full dozen right now and not think twice. But, can popcorn deliver the same experience?

When opened, I immediately got boardwalk/carnival vibes, but the smell alone doesn't really evoke fried dough so much as vanilla. It's slightly burnt sugar and vanilla, which is appealing, but not specifically doughnut-like. 

Taking a look, the popcorn has a light coat of glaze, in a slightly off-white color. It's not as thick or as hard as classic caramel corn, but it's certainly formed a kind of shell. 

Popping a few pieces into my mouth, it's sweet, vanilla'd, and sugary, with a slightly crispy shell that gives way to light, foamy, fresh popcorn. It reminds me a little bit of vanilla frosting, but it doesn't read as "doughnut" to me, and certainly not a specific one like Krispy Kreme's glazed. I'm getting flashbacks to the Cracker Jack Sugar Cookie Popcorn, but this is significantly lighter. I consider this to be a heavy-handed take on kettle corn. It's sweet, sugary, vanilla-y, and just the tiniest bit caramelized. The only downside is that every now and again your light and fluffy snacking is interrupted by a dental-hating kernel fragment. Which was a problem I noticed more in this bag than in the other flavor. 

It's light and easy to find yourself mindlessly shoving handful after handful into your mouth, so it's definitely snacking-worthy, but it just isn't a Krispy Kreme gazed doughnut, or any doughnut for that matter. But it is yummy.

Then we have the non-specifically branded cinnamon sugar doughnut. (I guess Krispy Kreme didn't want to go for another product tie-in?) Unlike the glazed doughnut version, this is a dry seasoned popcorn. When you open the bag you see popcorn (duh) with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar. It's finely milled, so it's not the same texture as the stuff in your pantry, and it clings to the popcorn well. 

The aroma leans surprisingly warm and savory, like salted butter, with a healthy amount of cinnamon to follow. A warm bakery-like cinnamon, and not the bold scented pinecone kind. All in all, it does make me think of baked goods, just not doughnuts. 

I popped some into my mouth and was surprised by how buttery and salty it was. (In a good way.) You have cinnamon and sugar, but mostly cinnamon, and a healthy amount of salt and butter flavoring that really makes it addictive. If they wanted a fancy name to push in marketing, they should have gone with coffee cake popcorn. Based on taste, that definitely would have been the way to go. 

Nothing about this reads "doughnut" to me, but it is delicious and I like it a lot more than I thought I would. Kind of like cinnamon graham crackers meets bright yellow popcorn. 

Unlike the Krispy Kreme popcorn, this one is a bit messier to eat, and you end up with cinna-dusted fingers, and there was far less kernel-shrapnel in this flavor. My teeth were not afraid to plow through the entire bag. 

At the end of the day, I think white cheddar is still what Smartfood does best, but there is no denying that both of these flavors were delicious and that I had no problems destroying either bag during solo snacking sessions. Even if the calorie content is far higher than I think it is, I don't feel bloated or stuffed after an intense snacking session either. 

I like these a lot, my only issue lies solely on the marketing. These are a kettle corn and cinnamon sugar popcorn respectively, why not leave it at that? Adding brand tie ins and glorified names like "cinnamon sugar doughnut" sets the product up to fail even if the product is enjoyable. Popcorn is not doughnuts, and never will be.

I think if you ground up some cinnamon and sugar in a spice grinder, and added it to movie-theater-style popcorn, you'd have something comparable, but the Krispy Kreme kettle corn is a bit more labor intensive and trickier to recreate at home, so while I does not taste like a doughnut, it's definitely the one I would repurchase in the future. 

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