Popcorn Varieties

Did you know that popcorn comes in many different varieties? Corn (and most plants) are sort of like dogs. (Bear with me here.) We all know that there are many different breeds of dogs – everything from Great Dane to Labrador Retriever to Cocker Spaniel to Chihuahua. Well, within those breeds of dogs are different varieties. For example, Labrador Retrievers come in yellow, black, and chocolate. All three types of colors are Labs, and all the different breeds of dogs are still dogs. Corn works the same way.

Think of sweet corn, field corn, and popcorn as different “breeds” of corn. Within each of those “breeds,” there are different varieties. That’s why some sweet corn is all yellow, some is all white, and some is bicolored. That’s also why some field corn is good for making animal feed, some is good for making people food, and some is good for making high-fructose corn syrup (and many other uses for different varieties of field corn). And, there are many different varieties of popcorn. Here are a few I could find in my local stores.

popcorn varieties

I popped two tablespoons of kernels from each of these varieties of popcorn, and this is what I ended up with.

popped popcorn varieties

Why the difference? Let’s take a look!

Here is the regular popcorn. This is the variety that is in most microwave popcorn bags. This is also what you can easily find in bulk in your grocery store. The kernels pop into nice-sized pieces of popcorn, with a slight yellow tint. These also have relatively thick hulls. (Hulls are the outer coating of the popcorn kernel, the same as the bran in this diagram of a whole grain. It’s also the stuff that gets stuck in your teeth when you eat popcorn.)

regular popcorn

Rainbow blend popcorn is a mixture of a few different varieties of popcorn. It comes in similar-sized kernels, and will give you similar-sized pieces of popcorn as the regular kernels. The popped popcorn may have slightly different colors, depending on which variety of popcorn is used.

rainbow blend popcorn

This variety is called “medium white hulless.” You can see that the kernels are smaller than the regular popcorn, and the popped popcorn is also a little smaller. There are two other difference here. First, the popped popcorn is very white, without the slight yellow tint of the regular popcorn. Second, the hulls on these kernels are much thinner and softer than regular popcorn.

medium white hulless popcorn

Yes, it is called “hulless,” but it does still have a hull. The hull is what holds the popcorn together and lets it pop. But the hulless varieties have a thinner, softer hull. When the popcorn pops, the hull breaks up into smaller pieces. These pieces are easier to chew and digest, and you may not get them stuck in your teeth quite as badly.

This is “baby white hulless” popcorn. The kernels and the popped corn are even smaller than the “medium white hulless” popcorn. The smaller kernels tend to give you a more tender piece of popcorn when they are popped.

baby white popcorn

Finally, this is “midnight blue popcorn.” The kernels here are very small, around the size of the baby white popcorn, and have this beautiful blue color. The popped popcorn is very white, but the blue hulls are still visible (and may give the popped popcorn a slightly blue tint). This variety of popcorn has a little extra “crunch” to it, but the hulls are still soft.

midnight blue popcorn

All the varieties of popcorn taste about the same, but the size and texture of the popped popcorn are a little different from each other.

There are many other varieties of popcorn available, but these were the ones that I could easily find in stores near me. Did you know that popcorn comes in different varieties? Which is your favorite?


Large animal veterinarian, cattle farmer, pet owner, grocery buyer.

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