The second chapter of this saga takes us to SunKus (another big convenience store chain here in Japan). Their gourmet popcorn offering comes with the name brand Pop Combi.
While their flavor profiles might seem tame in comparison to a lot of the other gourmet popcorn options, they more than make up for it in execution. All three of these are quite good, but the Carmel & Mildsalt is the stand-out; well balanced with a nearly ‘fresh-popped’ texture (which is often the biggest challenge for packaged popcorn).
They gourmet popcorn trend continues to evolve here in Japan. Although its origins are difficult to “prove”, there are some that believe it may have all started at a theme park in Maihama. What is known is that in the past couple years it manifested itself as high-end boutique shops (e.g. KuKuRuZa and Garrett’s); where 2-hour waits were common.
Recently, the gourmet popcorn trend has merged with the all-powerful convenience stores; where each store chain seems to have their own specialized brand agreement. For example, the shelves at the local Family Mart are stocked with a brand called “Styling Pop” from Frito Lay. And, on a recent trip, there were two flavor profiles to choose from: Anchovy-&-Garlic and Pepper-&-Chorizo.
Although hopes and expectations were high for the Pepper-&-Chorizo, the more tasty ended up being the Anchovy-&-Garlic. Both, however, went quite well with beer…just at the packaging indicates.
So, what has happened to those 2-hour waits at the boutique shops you ask? Well, as might be guessed, with gourmet popcorn becoming more commonplace and more accessible, you can often just walk right in. Which, from a popcorn-lover’s standpoint, is clearly a win-win.