Food and Drink

How Gourmet Popcorn Tins Became the Gift of Christmas

And how you can support small popcorn businesses this year.

Image by Maggie Rossetti for Thrillist
Image by Maggie Rossetti for Thrillist
Image by Maggie Rossetti for Thrillist

If you’ve ever subjected yourself to last minute gift shopping then you’re familiar with walking down store aisles past a huge display of Santa or snowflake decorated tins. And if you pop the lid off of one of them, inside is a literal gallon of popcorn flavored with butter, cheese, caramel, chocolate, and sometimes even ranch. In a time where we are all presented with hardships, challenges, and uncertainty, the simplicity of popcorn offers comfort and may just be the gift everyone needs. 

But where did the idea to put it inside of decorative tins come from and why do they make an appearance in stores every year? 

I reached out to Garrett Popcorn Shops, one of Chicago’s most popular popcorn companies known for its gallon-sized popcorn tins, CaramelCrisp, and Garrett Mix. Adrienne Kardosh, Vice President of Marketing & Integrated Brand Management for Garrett Brands, said the company has always sold their kernels in bags in their shops and in the ‘90s, they started a mail order business to ship the popcorn more efficiently. 

“We shipped in tins to protect the kernels as they shipped around the country. We would receive handwritten mail orders, and then we would scoop it into tins in our shops, because all of our shops have kitchens, cook it, pop it in the shop, and then put it in the tin and send it out,” Kardosh said.  

Since then, many kernel-popping companies have taken the tin approach to selling their popcorn and during Christmastime, they’re often decorated with festive designs including reindeers, Christmas trees, and of course, Santa Clause.

History suggests the emergence of movie theaters and the Great Depression as a launching point for the modern-day popularity of popcorn in general. Popcorn bags that cost 10 cents a bag were considered an “affordable luxury,” according to Andrew Smith, author of Popped Culture: A Social History of Popcorn in America. The buttery snack offered a slither of joy in an otherwise dark period of time, eerily similar to the atmosphere during the past several months. 

However, the exact reason why decorated tins of popcorn are so popular during the season of giving is unclear, but judging from how many convenience stores, Walmarts, and Big Lots carry them every year, they’re not disappearing anytime soon. 

But before heading to your nearest store to stock up, consider giving your loved ones a tin from a small, locally-owned business this year. Here is a list of some around the country that offer nationwide shipping of classic and unique flavors.Please take the note of holiday hours and shipping cutoff dates if specified on their website. It is likely that if you choose to ship, your product will arrive after Christmas. 


Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co.
What to get: Poppin Pail of NBN Original Sweet & Salty and Cheddar Makes It Better


Purple Gurls 
What to get: 2-gallon tin of peanut brittle, habanero cheddar, and cocoa pop 


Buttery Popcorn Co. 
What to get: 2-gallon tin of cheddar, cookies & cream, and chile lemón


Caja Popcorn
What to get: Mix & Match 1-gallon tin of sea salt caramel, buffalo ranch and kettle corn


Popcorn World
What to get: 2-gallon tin of dark chocolate pretzel, caramel toffee almond, and Southwest jalapeno


Popcorn Queens
What to get: 1.75-gallon tin of bourbon pecan


Poppin Top Hat
What to get: 2-gallon tin of the Detroit Mix


Lammar Marie’s Gourmet Popcorn
What to get: 1-gallon tin of the dark chocolate sea salted caramel


Go Popcorn
What to get: 1-gallon tin of brown butter caramelSign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Kristen Adaway is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her @kristenadaway

Food and Drink

Red Rooster Is Serving Free Chicken and Piping Hot Cash This Christmas in July

Get your early dose of festive cheer.

Red Rooster Christmas in July
Instagram / @redrooster_au

The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.

From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.

Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.

Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.

Terms and conditions apply. Visit Red Rooster’s Christmas in July to see all the deals.


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