The Era Of Posh Popcorn

TOAST’S top picks of the very best posh popcorn for movie night

Popcorn. It’s fun, tasty and low fat (as far as salty snacks go) and thanks to the massive trend in gourmet varieties it is now more versatile and exciting than ever. It also smells incredible when it’s cooking and makes a perfect party snack. What’s not to love?!

Here are TOAST’S top picks of the very best posh popcorn out there…

Salted or sweet? The days of this simple decision are officially OVER. Now we’re talking Madras Curry, Camembert and Gin and Tonic flavours. Seriously.

Ironically though, popcorn was once a very simple snack, and one of the earliest cooked foods known to man. Corn itself was of huge significance to people such as the Aztec and Maya, and the earliest evidence of popcorn popped up (sorry), all the way back in around 4,700BC, in Peru. It is believed to have grown first in Mexico, but it was also used in China and India hundreds of years before Columbus even reached the Americas.

Popcorn became hugely popular in the United States from the late 19th century onwards, and their love for this versatile snack has never faltered. Similarly across the pond we are now living in an era of ‘posh popcorn’, with the UK gourmet popcorn industry now worth well over £50M a year. 

Low in fat and high in fibre, popcorn is considered to be a far healthier alternative to crisps, so increasingly it is popping up (sorry, I can’t help it) in trendy bars and restaurants up and down the UK, often replacing the customary nuts and olives.

It is almost obligatory at the cinema, it’s the ideal (and totally moreish snack) for a movie night in with friends, your 4 o’clock craving at work, a quick snack on the move, served with drinks at weddings and parties – it’s basically taking over the world. OK maybe that’s an exaggeration but really - it’s trendy, it’s tasty, it’s low fat and there has never been such an interesting choice of diverse and truly delicious flavours available. 

So why not read on for TOAST’s top picks of some of the UK’s hottest popcorn producers, as well as a few popcorn ready party tips for you to try at your next do. 

Joe & Seph’s

This small family business has gone from strength to strength since it launched in 2010. Their mission? To produce the best tasting gourmet popcorn in the world, and their impressive hoard of 24 Great Taste Awards certainly implies that they have succeeded. Joe & Seph’s now have a staggering range of over 40 flavours, all handmade in London by a small team of pastry chefs using 100% natural ingredients. If you fancy savoury then be sure to try their Thai Style Peanut Satay Popcorn, or their indulgent Olive Oil, Truffle Oil and Truffle Salt variety. For the sweeter tooth there’s Smooth Caramel and Espresso, Orange Marmalade or their new Coconut and Chia Seed Popcorn. They are also responsible for the first ever official Marmite flavoured popcorn, which you’ll either love or hate (I love it).

Prices start at £1.99 for a 32g snack pack available from their online shop


Joe Stephs


You’ll find Portlebay’s ‘Poppery’ in the picturesque countryside of Devon, where they have been making their trademark Kracklecorn® 2012 (they add raw cane sugar into the pot just as the grains are popping to give a more brittle, crunchy texture).  Working on a small-scale, they hand-pop all their corn in six small saucepan-sized pans and package it as soon as it has cooled to ensure that they capture the very best crunch. They offer nine intriguing flavours such as Crispy Bacon and Maple Syrup, Lemon Sherbet, Chilli and Lime, Wasabi and Sweet Ginger and Cappuccino, and they have just recently launched a brand new creation; Sweet Thai Sriracha (an aromatic, peppery sauce made from sun ripened chillies), making them the very first popcorn manufacturer to bring this super trendy flavour to the UK. We also love their nautical striped bags – a nod to their location near the seaside city of Plymouth.

Price from £1.95 for 75g. Available in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Booths, and independent stores and farm shops nationwide www.portlebaypopcorn.com

Portlebay Popcorn


American brand Quinn has reinvented microwave popcorn – which is perfect for when you’re after convenience as well as the mouth-watering smell of freshly popped corn wafting through your home. For many years there have been concerns that chemicals in the lining of the conventional microwave bags may get into the popcorn during the popping process…so Quinn developed a unique “Pure Pop” bag, made from recycled and compostable paper, using no harmful chemicals whatsoever. The popcorn itself is made from organic corn kernels and all their flavours are all natural, but that certainly doesn’t mean boring; we’re talking Parmesan and Rosemary, Vermont Maple and Sea Salt and Lemon and Sea Salt, and they’ve recently just launched Real Butter and Sea Salt. 

Price from £3.70, available in Whole Foods www.quinnsnacks.com



Popercorn is corn ‘Done Properly’ according to Cassandra Stavrou who founded the company in 2011, inspired by her father who was a terrible cook, but made great popcorn. Their most popular ‘posh popcorn’ flavours include Sweet and Salty, Sour Cream and Black Pepper and Smooth Peanut and Almond. All of their corn is made in the UK, is gluten-free, suitable for vegetarians and made using only natural ingredients. Their “Done Properly” ethos extends far beyond their popcorn; it is their approach to everything that they do, whether it’s taking part in events (they were the official snack of London Fashion Week last year) or collaborating with artists when designing their cool, colourful packaging. This month they are also launching a brand new snack offering called Crunch Corn – half popped popcorn with a unique texture and a nut like crunch. Watch this space…

Price from 85p per 25g bag. Available in Ocado, Whole Foods, Tesco and their online shop


Cole & Sons

Popcorn is not just reserved for movie night you know? The retro look and the incredible smell of a traditional popcorn cart service is a really fun addition to any event, be it a birthday, wedding, baby shower, or any excuse! Cole & Sons hire out their beautiful, traditional shiny red popcorn cart for just such events; it comes with a friendly, fully trained and uniformed popper to serve your guests fresh popcorn in retro scoop boxes or paper bags. Available flavours include traditional sweet, caramel glazed, salted, white cheddar, hot jalapeno, cheddar cheese, barbecue, sour cream as well as salt & vinegar – a tough decision to make.

Price, their popcorn service starts from £175 plus a nominal fee for mileage. See Toast’s Little Black Book for more details; Cole & Sons

Cole Sons


If you really want popcorn at your do but don’t have the budget to hire a cart, you could buy a mini popcorn maker (see TOAST’S Notebook here) or why not try bulk catering packs (Joe & Seph’s offer 1kg bags for £35 - - you can fill glass jars and large bowls and dot them around your events. You could also leave out some cute retro paper bags for your guests to fill.

We love these jars from LSA. The LOTTA container is contemporary and stylish, whereas the elegant Bonbon jar would be perfect at a wedding priced at £35 for the Bonbon Jar LSA and £36 LOTTA from LSA

Glass Jars

You can get some fun paper popcorn bags from Ginger Ray are traditional and fun and perfect for a children’s party or a larger event. For a more sophisticated offering we love these super chic chevron stand up bags and trendy popcorn boxes from Candle & Cake for £3.75 for 8 boxes , 25p per bag.