Chicago Mix

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Mixing Caramel and Cheddar Popcorn Is an Abomination and Must Be Stopped

“Chicago Mix” has no place in the American culinary canon
Chicago Mix

Shutterstock

This should not exist.

Chicago generally has a lot of good things going for it, food-wise. It’s got the Chicago dog, the Italian beef sandwich, and its version of pizza. But the Windy City really dropped the ball with what’s commonly called “Chicago Mix” popcorn; that is, a combination of Cheddar- and caramel-coated popcorn, mixed together in the bag. It should be blaringly obvious, but Cheddar and caramel do not taste good when combined.

Think about it: Have you ever in your life seen Cheddar (or any other type of cheese, for that matter) and caramel combined in any useful culinary application? Maybe a nice block of creamy caramel to complement that washed-rind Pont-l'Évêque? Or a little melted caramel inside that lovely grilled cheese sandwich? No? Of course not! It’s because the flavors aren’t complementary. There are plenty of sweet and savory applications that work wonderfully together, of course, especially in the cheese department (don’t even get me started on blue cheese and honey). Heck, French fries and Frostys even somehow work together, but Cheddar and caramel are not included in this category.

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If Chicago Mix popcorn didn’t exist, nobody on Earth would miss it. If you want sweet popcorn, eat sweet popcorn. If you want savory popcorn, eat savory popcorn. You can even live dangerously and alternate between bites of sweet and savory. But for Pete’s sake, don’t combine Cheddar and caramel in one bite. It’s just not good.