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Popcorn balls remind me of Halloween

October 25, 2011

Back before Halloween was strictly regulated and you had to worry about Halloween candy that wasn’t pre-packaged, I remember my mom making popcorn balls for trick-o-treaters and the Halloween carnival.
It was before carmel popcorn came in big tins at Christmas, so to have carmel popcorn was a once a year treat.
My brother and I tried to help, but we tended to eat more popcorn than actually "help."
Jeremy and I would roll the sticky popcorn into balls and put them into little bags or plastic wrap. It is hard to wrap with sticky hands, by the way.
At the Halloween Carnival, the popcorn balls were prizes in the fishing game.
I do not have my mom’s recipe for Popcorn balls, but these are two recipes that are very close to what I remember.

Best Ever Popcorn Balls
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup margarine
2 teaspoons cold water
2 5/8 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup marshmallows
5 quarts plain popped popcorn
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the corn syrup, margarine, cold water, confectioners’ sugar and marshmallows. Heat and stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Carefully combine the hot mixture with the popcorn, coating each kernel.
Grease hands with vegetable shortening and quickly shape the coated popcorn into balls before it cools. Wrap with cellophane or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Old-Time Popcorn Balls
2 quarts popped popcorn
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Place popcorn in a large bowl and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, combine molasses, sugar, water, vinegar and butter. Cook, without stirring, over medium heat until the mixture reaches 235 degrees F on a candy thermometer (soft-ball stage). Add baking soda and stir well. Remove from heat and immediately pour over popcorn, stirring gently with a wooden spoon until well coated. When cool enough to handle, quickly shape into 3-in. balls, dipping hands in cool water to prevent the syrup from sticking.

Popcorn Party Balls
10 cups popped popcorn
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 (3 ounce) package fruit flavored gelatin mix
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts
Place popcorn in a large shallow pan or dish.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring corn syrup and brown sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until dissolved. Stir in peanuts. Pour mixture evenly over popcorn, stirring to coat. When mixture is cool enough to handle, form into 2 inch balls. Let cool on waxed paper until set.
Recipes from

Gwen Sisson is the Lifestyles Editor for Starkville Daily News. Contact her at

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