Monday, October 31, 2022

Great Balls of Popcorn!

You thought I was done? Not quite yet.

I thought I'd share this traditional Halloween treat with you.  Popcorn Balls. I'm old enough to remember when old ladies would hand these out as treats in your Trick or Treat bag.

I try to make them every year, and I've finally found a recipe I really like.  I found it here, but I've copied below for ease.


7 quarts popped popcorn

1 cup sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Food coloring, optional (I don't use any food coloring)


Place popcorn in a large baking pan; keep warm in a 200° oven.

In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt. Cook over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 235° (soft-ball stage).  I've tried using other methods to determine "soft-ball" stage, but I've found a thermometer is invaluable.

Remove from the heat. Add the butter, vanilla and food coloring if desired; stir until butter is melted. Immediately pour over popcorn and stir until evenly coated.

When mixture is cool enough to handle, quickly shape into 3-in. balls, dipping hands in cold water to prevent sticking. (I use butter on my hands to prevent sticking)

How does this relate to a garage sale find?  I use this Westinghouse Betty Furness Candy Thermometer I bought at a garage sale.

Betty Furness was an RKO actress who never quite made leading lady status.  In the 40's, she found difficulty finding work.  In 1948, she substituted as a spokesperson for Westinghouse on "Studio One".  They liked her and kept her on. She eventually earned a salary of $100,000 per year.

Don't forget, you have a few more hours left before Halloween leaves us to head over to The Countdown and visit the other bloggers and see what they have cooking.


  1. I saw a funny popcorn ball meme on Debras blog today

  2. I had a neighbor as a kid who would make these, and also gift bags and invite us into the house to sit and get these treats. Very nice lady.

  3. Honestly, i always dreaded these as a kid, but i only ever got one per year, if that. i was all about the candy! but now i think about that heartbreaking episode of Freaks and Geeks, where their mom spent all afternoon baking cookies to give out, and the neighborhood kids tossed them into their yard. You just can't hand out things like that anymore, no matter the generous spirit behind them. people are too (ridiculously) worried they are laced with drugs, or in our day, contained razor blades or something.

    1. Did I ever tell you this story? Either way, I'll tell it again.
      About 20 years ago when I first started taking my oldest kids out Trick or Treating, my mom would watch the house and hand out treats. We ran out of candy bars and my mom started handing out handfuls of frosted pretzels from a bag. When I came home with the kids, I saw pretzels scattered all over my lawn. I did a slow motion "Noooooooo" as I ran for the door. "Mom! You can't do that!" Ever since then, I've made sure I have more than enough to hand out (although I still run out of full-sized bars).

    2. you must have shared it at some point, but whatever, it's still a great story. one of the things that makes Freaks & Geeks so great is that Paul Feig, Judd Apatow, and the writers based everything off their own real-life experiences, so i bet one of them had their mom do the same thing with the same result. your mom was not alone!


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