Humor Magazine

The Only Halloween Popcorn Ball Recipe You’ll Ever Need

By Katie Hoffman @katienotholmes

Since the 1950s popcorn balls have reigned supreme as the homemade Halloween treat that refuses to die. If Halloween was the movie Mean Girls, popcorn balls would be the eager "fetch" that vintage-obsessed Pinterest moms are still trying to make happen. Every year the pre-packaged equivalents of these kettle corn testes appear in kids' trick-or-treat bags nationwide, routinely being mistaken for displaced movie theater tumbleweeds (which contain popcorn crumbs, gum, a nickel, and a ticket stub held together by a half-eaten Starburst that fell out of someone's mouth), instead of a treat intended for consumption.

It's hard to believe that anyone would think the tradition of molding popcorn - a snack most often eaten in darkness by the fistful - into a ball using molasses or corn syrup is acceptable in any context other than getting our fix for sweets during a post-war food rationing period, but somehow popcorn balls persevere. With so many popcorn ball recipes on the Internet that claim to be the "best ever," it's about time we settle once and for all what goes into making the ideal popcorn ball.

Let's begin with the ingredients...


  • 10 cups of popped corn you intend on depraving
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract that would rather be poured into the toilet bowl than be used in creating a Halloween cluster of disappointment
  • 1/4 cup of water that will never quench the thirst of children who lack access to a clean drinking source because making popcorn balls is more important
  • 2 tablespoons of butter that would rather grease a frying pan or be accidentally dropped on the floor and eaten by the dog
  • 1 cup of sugar whose only dream in life was to be sacrificed for chocolate chip cookies
  • 1 cup of molasses that would rather be the butt of a million "slower than" jokes than be part of popcorn balls
  • 1/3 teaspoon of salt and the trenchant judgment of the Morton Salt Umbrella Girl on the container
  • A vendetta against costumed children and/or Halloween party guests who expect candy bars instead of popcorn jawbreakers
  • A sadistic craving to momentarily trick people into thinking they're scoring a giant, round Rice Krispies treat instead of a handful of popcorn your gross hands sculpted into a sphere using syrup and sugar
  • A mirror to watch yourself devolve in a savage
  • An ax to grind with Hershey's or Mars Chocolate, optional


  1. Put the popcorn in a big baking pan; keep warm in a 225° oven. When you're sliding the pan onto the top rack, have an epiphany that this popcorn is how you perceive the world, and you're serving it right up to the fiery Hellmouth.
  2. Hang the mirror in front of the oven at eye level so your full face is in view.
  3. Get a big pot and combine the sugar, molasses, water, and salt. Cook over medium heat for about five minutes, stirring often. While torturing these ingredients, take a long look at yourself in the mirror, confronting the soullessness in your eyes and recognizing the shell of a person you've become. Think of the Snickers and Three Musketeers bar deprivation you willed when you decided to create these cursed globes. Hear the phantom shaming of the nun from Game of Thrones and look over your shoulder to find the kitchen empty, filled only by your dishonor.
  4. Remove the pot from heat and add the butter and vanilla extract. Stir until the butter is melted, watching it lose its form much in the same way you lost yourself this Halloween. As the butter combines with the mixture, remember the candy bowl person you used to be. Recall what pride you took in not being one of those houses that insisted on alternative Halloween goodies.
  5. Remove the popcorn from the oven and set it to rest on the counter. Stare down at the pot you're stirring and ask yourself why you're doing this. Blink back tears thinking about a Heath bar. Go to the trash can and dump the foul concoction into the garbage, ostensibly unplugging yourself from the popcorn ball Matrix and rejoining society, where candy is the supreme Halloween treat and popcorn can't be used as a weapon.
  6. When cool, collect the popcorn into a bowl. Put a stick of butter in the microwave for 35 seconds (or until fully melted). Pour it over the popcorn and coat with salt. Use the remote to find The Witches (feel free to substitute your Halloween movie of choice) and sit down on the couch with the popcorn.
  7. Gorge yourself in the darkness and do your best to live with yourself in the aftermath of the devastation you nearly wrought.
The Only Halloween Popcorn Ball Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Katie Hoffman is a writer living in the suburbs of Chicago. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @bykatiehoffman.

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