Tuesday, October 19, 2010

479°: The Degree of Perfection

October is Popcorn Popping Month! That's right, a whole month to honor my favorite snack. Whether crunchy, crispy, salty, sweet, cheesy, or buttery - few things have the ability to sate my various cravings as the versatile popped corn kernel. That it's a whole grain packed with fiber and [starts out] low calorie means we can tackle [certain versions] guilt free. I've been kept away most of the month so my popcorn blogging is behind schedule, but I still have a week and a half to share my favorites of my favorite snack. So let's get down to business. Not a moment to waste!

In the store bought category, the favorite of my favorites of my favorite is the gourmet popcorn brought to us by local company 479°, so named because that is apparently the best temperature at which to perfectly pop popcorn kernels - "The Degree of Perfection." How local? When purchasing a couple boxes to photograph and munch for this post, I learned the creator shops at my market. Yeah, that's local.

But location is not the important thing here. The important thing: Flavor. That's what 479° delivers in bushels. From subtle and sophisticated to bold and brazen, this popcorn offers unique takes on this classic snack, raising it from the ranks of greasy movie theater buckets mindlessly shoveled into our gullets by the handful to true foodie heights of gourmet excellence perfect for savoring one morsel at a time.

My favorite of this favorite of my favorites of my favorite... ummmm, I think I lost track. Anywho, my favorite of 479°'s many flavor options is the Madras Coconut Curry + Cashews.

Who's surprised my favorite flavor is of the savory variety? Not any of my regular readers. This bold flavor pairs the warmth of fragrant Indian spices with a hint of sweetness. Think the sweetness and slight crisp you find with kettle corn, not the full sweetness and solid crunch of caramel corn. This unique snack is so worth staining your fingernails yellow.

I also really enjoy another bold, savory flavor from 479°, Pimentón de La Vera.

This flavor matches smoky paprika with fresh tomato flavor and a kick of that same crisp sweetness. It's like a fancy barbecue in your mouth.

So far I have tried almost every flavor 479° currently offers. There's a variety for every taste profile. Some hit my particular snacking nerve better than others, but none turned me off. I would say that the caramel varieties have a softer coating than expected, lacking the satisfying crunch I look for in my caramel corn. But the flavor is there, especially in the Chipotle Caramel + Almonds' low, slow heat. For more subtlety, the Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt and Black Truffle + White Cheddar offer a hint of delicate elegance for the refined palate.

For my fellow San Franciscans, I've found 479° with varying degrees of success and availability at Village Market in the Ferry Building, the defunct Blue Fog, Andronico's, and Bryan's - but not always, and not every flavor. I've looked for it at other suggested retail partners, like Whole Foods and CalMart, with no luck. The scarcity just means even more excitement when I finally see those glossy boxes stacked in front of me. Whether or not you live in the Bay Area, take a look (and a chance) at other retail partners listed here. And even if you don't live near a retail partner, you can always order sampler packs, collections, and a PIY (Pop It Yourself) kit (which I'm dying to try) from the website. It may not be as easy as hitting the local market to find this delicacy, but it's worth the extra effort to taste something that redefines the concept of the previously simple snack that is popcorn.


  1. Now I want to try this popcorn! It looks so delicious. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I think we could definitely serve an orangey varietal and a white varietal at our Project Runway party - Cors & Gunn as popcorn!