Halloween Treats: Popcorn Balls

“John, do we have any pumpkin left in the freezer?” I called from my secure place on the couch.  Unless it had somehow turned into something that resembled apples, he was pretty sure we didn’t.  “Maybe downstairs?” he suggested.  I decided that was WAY too much effort.  Instead, I just scrolled through all of the recipes searching for a perfect Halloween treat.  We were about to have a group of tweens and early teens descend upon our house for pumpkin carving and bonfire, so I figured it was the perfect time to test out one of 4 popcorn ball recipes.

My friend’s mom made the pumpkin in the background. It’s handmade paper.

Does anyone even still eat popcorn balls?  I remember getting the ones as a kid, they were rock hard, but at the same time were sort of like Styrofoam.  Maybe making my own would be better.
img_2865Now for the scary stuff before we get into this too far.  Sugar syrup is HOT and STICKY.  This means, if you are not careful, not only could you burn yourself, but it’s hard to remove the heat from your skin quickly.  If you don’t remove the old maids (unpopped kernels) from the popcorn, you may run into some pain.  If you have dental work, the syrup will harden and stick in your dental work.img_2867

The mechanics of this are simple. Pop the corn and have it in a large bowl. Boil the syrup ingredients together until they reach the hard ball stage, 260 degrees. Pour the syrup over the popped corn and mix thoroughly.  Before the syrup becomes hard, but after it’s cool enough to handle, grab handfuls of the popcorn and pack it like you would a snowball.  If you have never packed a snowball, then maybe like a really large meatball.  If you haven’t done that either, then I’ll explain.  First you need to stand on one foot.  Now take that other foot and slowly place it behind your head.  As you are spinning in a circle, put enough popcorn in one hand to fill it.  Then take your other hand and place it on top of the hand with the popcorn in it, covering the popcorn.  Now, as you say the magic words, “Pop, pop, until you stop, stop.  I’ve got to hop, hop” pat your hands together.  Magically a ball will form.  (and if you do this, please post a video in the comments)

This photo was really just to show off the needle felted acorns I made.
Popcorn Balls (4)

Popcorn Balls

1 cup Karo Syrup (Corn syrup)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1 t. vinegar

Boil together until the temperature reaches 260 degrees (hard ball stage).  Add 2 TB butter, Stir until butter has melted, Pour over about 4 quarts of popcorn (about 2 batches in our air popper).  Mix until coated and form into balls.

4 thoughts on “Halloween Treats: Popcorn Balls”

  1. Grandma made these from time to time and I thought they were wonderful. Popcorn was a treat but I’m not sure why. It is so easy. My mother usually made carmel corn. I think it was because my dad loved the Carmel but Mother was not interested in handling the hot sugar to make the balls. I can only think of her making popcorn balls once or twice. I’m thinking one of us was to take popcorn balls to something at school, probably a Christmas party.


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