Millions of people count popcorn as their favorite snack.
It’s simple, delicious, and pretty healthy — plus, it’s super versatile. You can eat popcorn sweet or savory, add countless toppings, or stick to good old buttery popcorn. Whatever your choice, this whole-grain snack is great for any occasion.
But there may still be a lot you don’t know about popcorn.
For example, what is the difference between yellow popcorn and white popcorn? Did you even know that different types of popcorn kernels existed?
If you’re finding yourself in new popcorn territory, this post will help you learn the ins and outs of white and yellow kernels as well as the shapes of popcorn.
Let’s get started:
The Two Main Varieties of Popcorn
Popcorn kernels come in different colors, but the two most common are yellow and white kernels.
Yellow kernels are a medium-to-large size with a yellowish hue. White kernels, on the other hand, are white when popped and a little bit smaller. They’re also softer and not as crunchy as yellow popcorn.
Both varieties of popcorn work well in specific scenarios and each has a preferred use. It’s good to know the differences between the types of popcorn so that you choose the best one for the occasion.
Yellow popcorn got its name thanks to the light yellow color of the popped kernel. You won’t be surprised to learn that yellow popcorn comes from yellow corn. Many people look at yellow popcorn and immediately associate it with a buttery flavor. It does look like it’s covered in butter even when it’s plain.
Yellow popcorn also has a very thick hull which means it’s quite crispy when popped. It actually stays crispy longer than other varieties of popcorn.
Yellow popcorn is also a lot larger than white popcorn kernels. Movie theaters typically use it for this reason. The large, crunchy pieces hold toppings easily and taste fresh for quite a long time.
White popcorn has no yellowish tint. It’s completely white. Some people even call white popcorn “rice popcorn” because it’s so pale.
White popcorn kernels come from white corn and are small with an almost oval shape. Even the hull on the white popcorn kernel is tiny, so many consider it hulless. The thinner hull pops easily and makes soft, tender popcorn that so many people enjoy.
Many people think that white popcorn is healthier than yellow popcorn. The truth is that white popcorn has about the same nutritional value as yellow popcorn. Both popcorn varieties are great, healthy snack options.
Snowflake Popcorn vs Mushroom Popcorn
All popcorn varieties will pop into two different shapes: snowflake or mushroom-shaped. Both the white variety and the yellow variety of popcorn can make either shape. It really just depends on the kind of popcorn you have.
Mushroom-shaped popcorn looks like a little ball. It usually has specks or raised dots that make it look like a round mushroom. Most mushroom-shaped popcorn is about the same size and fairly uniform.
Snowflake popcorn is also called butterfly popcorn. It has lots of arms and knobs that reach out in all sorts of directions. Each popped kernel of snowflake popcorn is different and unique, just like snowflakes.
Popcorn Shape Uses
Mushroom-shaped popcorn is quite sturdy and holds up well under heavy toppings. It’s really good for making kettle corn or caramel corn. The sticky toppings coat the outside of the large, round surface really well.
Snowflake-shaped popcorn is really good for capturing dry, powdered toppings. It also absorbs butter which is why it’s perfect for movie theater popcorn. Next time you catch a film with your friends, check out your popcorn’s shape and you'll see that it is mostly the snowflake kind.
How to Take Advantage of the Main Difference in Popcorn
Now that you know a little more about what makes each type of popcorn unique, use their strengths to your advantage.
For example, if you’re planning to make some air-popped popcorn for your next movie night, you’ll want to use snowflake-shaped popcorn which will capture all the seasonings and butter. You should also choose yellow kernels to make those big, easy-to-grab pieces.
Meanwhile, if you’re trying your hand at homemade kettle corn, mushroom-shaped popcorn is definitely best. It will hold the weight of the flavored coating well and give you soft, chewy pieces.
But if you’re just looking to make popcorn to enjoy as a workday snack, grab some white popcorn kernels. The smaller hull is less likely to get stuck in your teeth.