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Beth Sistrunk’s Zero Calories Series – Caramel Popcorn

October 14, 2021
a lollipop and box of caramel popcorn

Beth Sistrunk
Caramel Popcorn

The Zero Calories series is all about nostalgia, happiness, and a celebration of the delicious, whether it’s pastry and other confections or favorite candies. For example, “Caramel Popcorn” is inspired by a memory of movie night from when I was six years old.


I eagerly watch as my mother removes the bag of Orville Redenbacher popcorn from the brightly lit microwave.

Pings and pops make me jump as the popcorn continues to explode in the hot bag when she shakes it.

When the popcorn quiets, she tears open the paper, and steam erupts, coating her glasses in fog.

Somehow that always happens.

A giggle escapes my lips.

I want to dive right into the treat, but it’s not ready yet. This recipe calls for a special addition.

I bounce up and down, holding the foil package containing the final garnish for the popcorn. The caramel inside is warm and deliciously squishy in my hands. I hold up the packet, and mom carefully slices the top with kitchen scissors.

“I want to do this part,” I say, and she holds the hot popcorn bag out for me, and I squeeze the toffee-colored caramel onto the popcorn and watch as it melts a little. The sweet-smelling caramel aroma blends with the savory popcorn, and my mouth waters so much I have to swallow.

Much to my disappointment, it doesn’t melt enough. I don’t want to miss my favorite part of the movie.

“We’re going to be late.”

“We have time.” Mom pops the whole thing back in the microwave for a bit before pouring our snack into a bowl.

We race to the couch just as Dorothy starts to sing about rainbows and birds on the TV. But, she was right, we’re not too late, and I tuck under her arm, and we both reach for the popcorn.

I close my eyes to savor the sweet and salty confection, the slightly crunchy popcorn, and the soft caramel melting in my mouth. I’ve got caramel stuck to my fingers, and at this point, my shirt, but I don’t care. It’s sooo good, and I can’t help but notice mom’s loving it too.

I tear myself away from the caramel popcorn, not wanting to miss a second of what comes next.

|With a thump and an “oh,” the house on the TV falls down. Everything goes from a dismal black and white to full color, and it gives me goosebumps again, just like last time.

The scent of caramel and popcorn always reminds me, “there’s no place like home.”

Beth Sistrunk