pink popcorn balls

Halloween is less than a week away and I’m without a costume. I have serious love for Halloween, so not having a costume (or plans) makes me feel like I’m dying inside.

I did manage to buy six – yes, six pairs of false eyelashes from the craft store last weekend. So if nothing else, there will be crazy eyelashes this Halloween. And popcorn balls. Make that pink popcorn balls.

One of my favorite childhood treats was Wright’s Pink Popcorn, the sweet, slightly stale bar of popcorn sold at zoos and amusement parks in and around the Bay Area. My mom would buy it for us at Fairyland when we were kids, so I associate youth and good times with pink popcorn.

I’d been thinking about pink popcorn for a few weeks and decided that I had to do something about it. I hadn’t made popcorn balls in over ten years, and the idea of pink popcorn balls put a smile on my face. Freshly popped stove-top popcorn lightly coated in a sugary syrup with a hint of vanilla and sea salt is my kind of party. The pink is optional, but so much fun. This one is definitely for the kids, big and small.

pink popcorn balls

adapted from

makes 12 balls

16 cups popped, unsalted popcorn (2/3 cup kernels)

non-stick cooking spray

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon sea salt (I used Maldon)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 or 2 drops pink or red food coloring

Spray a large mixing bowl with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the popped popcorn in the bowl and set aside.

Combine sugar,  corn syrup, butter, and salt in a small, heavy saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Continue stirring and boil for 2 minutes.

Remove the sugar mixture from heat and add baking soda, vanilla, and food coloring, stirring, until desired color is reached.

Pour the hot syrup over the reserved popcorn; stir together with a wooden spoon until all the kernels have been well coated. Spray your hands with non-stick cooking spray. Working quickly, use your hands to form a 3-inch-diameter ball. Transfer the ball to parchment paper, and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining the popcorn mixture. Wrap individually in plastic wrap or store in an airtight container up to 2 days.