Movie theater popcorn is one of my guilty pleasures. I have always assumed it is gluten free but wanted to know for sure. I hope I can continue to enjoy this treat when I go to the movies.
It’s hard to resist the smell and taste of movie theater popcorn. The popcorn kernels themselves are, of course, gluten free. The oil and flavoring used to give them that unique movie taste were also gluten free in every case we checked.All Flavacol brand popcorn, oil and butter flavoring produced by Gold Medal Products, a major supplier to movie theaters, is gluten free. Todd Sunderhaus, flavor technologist for Gold Medal, said the company’s manufacturing facility is gluten free and that all ingredients are checked for allergens. When it comes to gluten, the company has a zero tolerance policy, Sunderhaus said.Gold Medal does sell some products that contain wheat, including funnel cake and waffle cone mixes, but they are made by outside companies and stored in a separate room in the company’s warehouse.“All the popcorn is gluten free,” Sunderhaus said. “There is no issue or question about that.”Several major movie theater chains also confirmed that their popcorn is gluten free. Regal Cinemas, the largest movie theater chain in the US, also sells pop corn with butter topping that is gluten free, according to marketing manager Richard Grover. Regal has 552 theaters in 39 states and Washington, D.C.The butter topping at all 350 AMC theaters in 30 states and Washington is gluten free, according to Sun Dee Larson, director of external communications.Likewise, the popcorn in all Cinemark theaters is gluten free, said James Meredith, vice president of marketing and communications. Cinemark has 289 theaters in 38 states.If the economy has you planning to watch more movies at home, you’ll be happy to know that most microwave popcorn is gluten free. Read the label to be sure.If you really want to save money, you can buy regular popcorn kernels in a plastic bag for a fraction of the cost of prepackaged microwave popcorn.You can use the kernels to make homemade microwave popcorn simply by putting a quarter cup of popcorn and salt or other seasoning to taste in a plain brown lunch bag. Add 1 teaspoon of olive or vegetable oil. Fold the top of the bag over and staple it twice (No, the staple will not ignite in the microwave. You can also fold the top of the bag over twice and skip the staples.) Gently shake the bag and lay it down in the micro - wave. Set the time from two to three minutes depending on your microwave, but stay there and remove the popcorn when there are three to five seconds between pops.Some recipes for homemade micro - wave popcorn omit the oil, which would cut the fat content, but might also affect the taste.You can also make popcorn the oldfashioned way. Pour just a bit of oil into the bottom of a pot, add some popcorn kernels, put the lid on the pot and turn the heat to medium high. Shake the pan when it starts popping or the popcorn will scorch and burn. Stay near the stove. Turn off the burner when there are three to five seconds between pops and leave the top on for a minute or two so the kernels settle.If you are feeling a bit nostalgic try Jiffy Pop—it’s gluten free. This is the brand that comes complete with oil and kernels already in an aluminum pan. I remember my parents making it on the stove when I was a kid and it seemed like sheer magic when the popcorn would bubble up into a big silver ball.