Whether you’re kicking it for a family movie night, pow-wowing in the office break room or just snagging a little snack between meals, popcorn’s typically part of the scene. And rightfully so. Flavorful, low in calories and fun to eat, this pop-ular snack plays to many hungry audiences. The question is, what’s the best bet when you’re craving a kernel or two?
Featuring a minimal ingredient list, including corn kernels popped at precisely 479° (optimal popping temperature), pure sea salt and sunflower oil, does 479° brand hold up in a side by side comparison with microwavable mainstay brand, Pop Secret. I’ve picked apart these popcorn brands in a side-by-side comparison. They may have a similar ingredient list, but much like last month’s potato chip throwdown, the similarities end there.
How Do 479°Popcorn and Pop Secret Microwavable Popcorn Compare?
In order to keep things simple, we’re comparing the basic Sea Salt flavor for both products. Read: 3-4 ingredients. Will there really be a difference? 479 Degrees popcorn is purely organic heirloom non-GMO popcorn, high oleic sunflower oil and sea salt. That’s clean alright. Pop Secret touts whole grain popcorn, palm oil, sea salt and “freshness preserved by TBHG”. (What the heck does that mean?) Palm oil has some debatable attributes and they’re missing the non-GMO verification, but it’s the initials that remain most mysterious and puzzling–so let’s get back to that later. In addition, one ingredient that remains unmentioned in Pop Secret however is perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is a toxic chemical used to line the microwavable bag. It is listed by the EPA as a carcinogen and has been linked to thyroid issues, high cholesterol and bladder cancer.
Pop Secret suggests that 4 ½ cups is an appropriate serving and on their larger bags 479° says 4 cups is their assumed serving size. That said, it’s most straightforward to do the math and compare the two based on nutritional analysis of 1 cup. That way, you can decide what a serving for you should be!
Some of the highlights to note are: 479° is slightly higher in calories, carbs, fiber and protein. 479° is also gluten-free certified. On the flip side, Pop Secret is significantly higher in sodium (3.5 times as high to be exact!) Pop Secret’s fat content is also slightly higher.
In terms of health, even more significant that the high sodium level in Pop Secret is the use of TBHQ, which I now know is really Tertiary Butylhydroquinone. (Now we can see why it’s not spelled out!). This is actually a butane derivative, so, uh, you do the math. Plainly put, it’s not something I’m tossing back on a regular basis!
|Based on 1 cup serving||479° Popcorn||Pop Secret Popcorn|
Look, Texture and Taste:
There is quite a difference in the way these popcorn kernels look. Pop Secret boasts a bigger kernel with a slightly golden hue. 479° is more of a compact kernel and it is pure white. Both look appetizing in their own right. The bag of Pop Secret itself was awfully greasy for my taste, which was surprising since this was not one of their buttered flavors.
Both popcorns have a good crunch and mouthfeel. 479° is drier and more pure, while Pop Secret definitely feels embellished with a little more oil. You can feel the residual on your fingers as well.
479° is more compact, so you can actually taste the grain itself a little bit more than you can with Pop Secret where you’re getting a lot of air with every bit. Pop Secret’s dominant flavor is salt and lacks much more. Truthfully, after reading about TBHG and PFOA I was pretty much done EATING anymore! As with all popcorn, your fingers will grab for more after every bite. However, now that the secret’s out of the bag about microwavable PopSecret, it may be time for the brain to intervene.
The winner: 479° popcorn
Combining terrific flavor without any secret acronyms, initials or ingredients, we’ll take the pure popcorn over the big name brand any day!
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Let us know in the comments below if you’re still sticking with your old school microwavable snack or if you’re popping on over to the healthier side of snacking.