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Anatomy of a perfect piece of popcorn

March 01, 2013|By Matt Lindner @mattlindner | For RedEye

Butterflies and mushrooms aren't just two things you might find on a frolic through a forest.

They're also two very distinct kinds of popcorn that Popcorn Factory Chief Popcornologist Marty Dennis said serve as the base on which the company's Chicago-style flavors are built.

The company's saltier flavors are made with butterfly popcorn, which much like an actual butterfly, needs to be handled with care because it's relatively fragile.

"Butterfly popcorn, when it pops, it's kind of like the popcorn that you have in microwave bags," Dennis explained. "If we use that same corn with the candy coatings, it would break down too much and you would end up with not a lot of corn left over. All the little pieces would break down and you'd have a lot of tiny pieces of corn with the candy coatings."

Mushroom popcorn, on the other hand, tends to have added structural integrity due to its anatomy.

"Mushroom popcorn, which is the kind that we use for all our sweet flavors, is almost a perfect sphere when it pops," he said. "We put the coatings on top of that, and it maintains the integrity of the popcorn and gives you a nice canvas to put the flavor on."

That's because at the end of the day, the popcorn-eating experience isn't just about the taste.

"The type of popcorn that you use is really important to the mouth-feel," he said. "You want it to snap."

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