You only have to barely mouth the phrase “spicy snack”, and I’ll coming running. Along with a really awesome chile-laden dessert item, and munchies or snacks with fire rank way up there with what I think some of the best applications of hot peppers one can come up with. My love for them is so deep, in fact, that I’ve declared both a spicy caramel sauce and a fried cheddar jalapeno snack the prestigious honor of what I thought were Best Product of the Year, back-to-back, and have had other burning sweets and snack stuff near the top of the list.
Although I’ve sampled an exhaustively large number of variations on what is capable from the munchies side of the specialty food world, I always love it when I stumble upon an item that is slightly off the beaten path, whether it’s a sly little twist on a familiar recipe or an inclusion of an ingredient someone’s ever though of before.
Popcorn is starting to be a well-mined sub-genre of the snack category, although I don’t believe I’ve ever come across a spicy cheddar popcorn as good as – or as hot as – Cornferno (which is billed as “The Hottest Popcorn. Ever.”).
Sure, many product manufacturers can slap the words “ghost pepper” and “habanero” all over their wares, but leave hardcore chileheads in crushing disappointment with how mild their products actually are. Not Cornferno. This ghost pepper popcorn rightly earns any labels showcasing bhut jolokia (which is another name for ghost peppers) and habanero chile peppers.
Popcorn, salt, soybean oil, ghost pepper, habanero, corn, cheddar cheese, onion powder, tomato powder, yeast, paprika, garlic, sugar, brown sugar, vinegar, chili peppers, monosodium glutamate, soy lecithin, beta carotene, yellow #5, yellow #6.
3.5 out of 5. The good smell of Cornferno ghost pepper cheddar popcorn is extremely deceptive, as I could detect nothing but an innocent cheddar cheese powder smell! There was no aroma of chile peppers at all.
Appearance and Texture:
4 out of 5. Perhaps because of the limitations of the lighting in my photo above, these popcorn kernels are given a heavy coating of the flavor sprinkles (the pieces in the upper right are a better representative of the bag as a whole). With ingredients such as dried ghost pepper powder, habanero powder, tomato powder, paprika, and brown sugar, Cornferno spicy popcorn has more of a dark orange-brown color coating the pieces than your typical “day-glow” bright orange, run-of-the-mill, cheddar popcorn.
Despite there being a generous amount of flavor sprinkling on the kernels, the coating adhered to the popcorn really well and didn’t have a lot of “rub off” onto my fingers. The popcorn was “moist” enough with the coating and that was alright by me.
4 out of 5. Stellar job, guys! The Cornferno folks found a nice balance with the overall flavors (yet, maybe not the heat…well, more on that later). It’s undoubtedly a cheese popcorn, basking in heavy, rich, sweet notes of cheddar, with subtle hints of brown sugar, all wrapping around a decent snack-aisle popcorn base. You maybe wondering if the habaneros of ghost peppers come into play when it comes to taste, I would have to give a big “no”. But then, the heat comes….
5 out of 5. My friends, if you are not a chilehead who loves the hottest of the hot, then is unequivocally not a product for you. Heck, Cornferno almost too hot for chileheads! Their tagline “The Hottest Popcorn Popcorn. Ever” is NO crazy, marketing-lingo exaggeration…it really is that blisteringly hot!
I’m not sure what amounts of habanero powder and ghost pepper powder is the main perpetrator of the burn, but WOW is it fiery! I was only able to take small handfuls (see the pick above) at a time, and then take a break for a few minutes before consuming another sizable amount. And after repeating the pattern about four times, that was more than enough for me.
Label and Packaging
3.5 out of 5. Slick, while somewhat moderately plain, graphics with basic sans serif fonts.
You can pick up Cornferno ghost pepper popcorn at the official Cornferno website.
This product comes in a rather large 15 oz. bag (take a gander at the pic above). Assuming that Cornferno will be a snack that at best most people will graze on, and NOT consume large quantities of, I feel that this is almost too much popcorn for one package. Since this nearly-one-pound bag runs for $59.99 (yes, you read that right) plus shipping from their website, I’m guessing that this might not be the best way to package and present and sell their product. If I were them, I would instead put this fiery popcorn into smaller 2.5 or 3 oz. bags and charge less. Yes, they may still have to price their eats at four or five bucks per bag, but at least this stuff would stay fresher and be in much more manageable portions, especially since it would be tough for all but the most heat-tolerant and insane chileheads.