The perfect road trip snack

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When I was growing up, my dad was famous for his caramel corn. He would make this tasty snack for any get together or holiday that we went to. If he didn’t take his caramel corn to some event, there would typically be a small riot as people realized they would not be able to enjoy the salty, sweet goodness that they craved.

Within the past year, I have decided that I better start learning how to make this delicious treat, so that I can carry on the Arnold tradition. So earlier this year, Sarah and I embarked on a culinary exploration of Charleston, South Carolina and Sarah suggested that this would be the perfect time to make a batch. As it turned out, this caramel corn is also a perfect travelling snack food.

So without further adieu, here is the recipe for my Dad’s famous caramel corn that many have tried to imitate, but most have failed miserably.





  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 8 quarts popped popcorn



The final ingredient that you will need is, of course, popcorn. I used the Extra Large Caramel variety from The Great American Spice Company. This popcorn popped up very large, so it is perfect for this recipe because of the extra surface area this large kernel has which allows it to take on plenty of sticky, sweet goodness. The amount of popcorn that you use is totally up to you. The recipe calls for 8 quarts of popped corn. I typically use less than this because I like my caramel corn to have a fairly heavy coating of caramel.

I start this recipe off by popping the popcorn. I would recommend using an air popper, but if you do not have one that is fine. I have popped the corn on the stove and have also used one of those popcorn makers that look like the movie theater poppers, so however you pop the corn is absolutely fine. One thing to look out for is that you need to be sure to remove any unpopped kernels that are left after popping. Those can prove to be a very unwelcomed surprise while you are enjoying your finished product if they are not removed.

Once the corn is popped, I measure out the rest of my ingredients in order to prepare to make the caramel sauce. I do this because the process moves along fairly quickly and I don’t want to fumble around trying to measure out everything on the fly.

For the caramel sauce, begin by combining the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Bring this mixture to a boil and boil for five minutes. You don’t have to stir the mixture constantly, but I typically stir it quite a bit. Once your five minutes are up, remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Immediately pour the mixture over the popcorn and lightly, but thoroughly stir the caramel into the popcorn to coat. Please be very, very careful with the caramel sauce because it is incredibly hot. Do not stick your finger in the sauce to taste it because you will burn yourself severely. Be careful while stirring as well because I honestly burn myself at least once while I’m stirring in the caramel.

Once you have the corn coated to your liking, spread the corn onto a couple baking sheets and bake at 200 degrees for one hour. After the hour is up, remove from the oven and spread on wax paper to cool.

And there you have it, my dad’s famous caramel corn recipe. I hope that you enjoy it as much as my family does and that you make it a family tradition of your own.

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