This Delicious Popcorn Trend is Unique to Chicago and the Midwest. Have You Ever Tried It?
I was today years old when I learned what "Midwest Mix" or "Chicago Mix" popcorn is. As a self-described popcorn freak, I am ashamed I had no idea that this popular popcorn style is unique to our home territory. Have you ever heard of this before?
A Midwest Mix is both cheese popcorn and caramel popcorn mixed within the same bag. Much like pineapple on pizza or trail mix, the Midwest Mix caters to those who prefer a salty and sweet combination when it comes to their snacks. Now, I am not someone who discriminates between popcorn flavors so mix it up however you like-- I'll not only eat it, I'll inhale it!
This all came to my attention as I was strolling through the Rivertown Crossings Mall in Grandville and stumbled across a Michigan-centric store. As a popcorn lover, naturally, my eyes were drawn to the big display featuring the Grand Rapids Popcorn Company's products. I'm always looking for things that are fun and unique to Michigan and the Midwest, so I was intrigued when I saw this unique combination. Of course, I had to snag a bag for myself! As delicious as it was, I was curious to know how this all got started and why this blend is considered unique to our area.
Charles Cretors invented the first machine that popped corn using oil back in 1885 and by 1949 the popular Chicago staple, Garret's Popcorn, had been founded by Claude and Gladys Garrett. If you've ever flown through the O'Hare International Airport or watched any Food That Built America-style TV show you'll know that Garrett's is synonymous with Chicago. Garrett's was even subtly featured in the most recent season of Netflix's Emily in Paris!
The story goes that back in the day, Garrett's popcorn fanatics would form long lines daily waiting to get their hands on fresh popcorn. Originally, Garrett's cheese popcorn and caramel popcorn were each bagged separately however, the family began to notice that many customers would combine the two on their own. Garrett's decision to make things easier on their customers and blend the two mixes themselves thus "Chicago Mix" was born!
With the popcorn blend being so popular, naturally, there were many knock-offs and wannabes. There was also a very litigious company called Candyland, a Minnesota-based brand who applied for and were granted a trademark for the name "Chicago Mix" back in the '90s. Therefore, the Garrett family began phasing out the name "Chicago" and replaced it with "Garrett's Mix" saying, "This transition began prior to any lawsuit due to countless brands now using the Chicago Mix name on what Garrett Popcorn Shops feels is a product vastly inferior to ours.”
Whatever you call it-- Chicago Mix or Midwest Mix-- this delicious combination is addictive and I encourage you to stock up whenever you can get your hands on it!