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Cinnamon popcorn is a snack food that is a combination of popcorn and some variety of cinnamon flavoring. The popcorn itself is quite literally popped corn, or maize, kernels. Cinnamon flavoring can be added by using ground cinnamon spice, cinnamon-flavored candy, cinnamon oil or extract, or artificial cinnamon flavoring.
Available commercially, cinnamon popcorn is manufactured by a number of companies, each using a slightly different recipe. It is usually marketed as a snack food, although the nutritional value varies greatly depending on the ingredients. Along with other types of flavored popcorn, cinnamon popcorn is particularly popular around the winter holidays.
Making cinnamon popcorn at home is fairly straightforward, although several varieties are common. Each variety combines a cinnamon flavoring mixture with a batch of popped popcorn. The cinnamon flavoring mixture is usually made first. Most commonly, ground cinnamon, butter, and sugar are heated together in the microwave or on the stovetop. Once melted and blended, the cinnamon mixture is mixed into the popped popcorn.
A more candied variety of cinnamon popcorn is made by combining hard red cinnamon candies with corn syrup and butter. Again, this mixture is heated on the stovetop, and then mixed into the popped popcorn. In this case, the popcorn can either be left to cool, or can be baked in the oven to further set the candy.
For a healthier version of cinnamon popcorn, the popped popcorn can be simply flavored with some ground cinnamon, or with a combination of ground cinnamon, a small portion of brown sugar, and a small bit of vanilla. Minimizing the sugar adds to the nutritional value of the snack.
Popcorn itself a relatively healthy snack. If air-popped, the corn is low in calories, fat, and sodium, and high in fiber. When the corn is popped in healthy oils, such as those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the fat and calorie count increases, but the fats are considered healthy fats. If the corn is popped in less-healthy oils, and lots of butter and sugar are added, the popcorn snack becomes less healthy.
Cinnamon popcorn is often a popular snack with children and adults alike. As a caveat, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that popcorn not be fed to children under the age of four. It is considered to be a significant choking hazard for infants and very young children.