I love popcorn. I also love cake (see earlier Nuts ‘N More post). When I saw this plainly labeled small red bag of popcorn that boldly read BIRTHDAY CAKE at Target I immediately took a step back and had a greater appreciation for food science. Yes, a lot of folks will say the birthday cake flavor trend is old news but I still get down with it and I am hooked on the crunch of the corn, so I grabbed a bag (or three) and went in with realistic expectations.
Immediately the bag hits you with a soft vanilla aroma that floats with the springiness of spongecake. It isn’t extremely sharp and harsh like a vanilla extract nor is it too artificial or overly sweet. Although not as strong, the aroma isn’t too far off from marshmallows, but closer to the kind you would find in Lucky Charms than a big bag of Jet-Puffed. The popcorn looks mainly plain and white with occasional small specks of color that are probably supposed to give a nod to sprinkles.
Popcorn is naturally fluffy so the texture play here actually works really well. Initially the difference between popcorn and cake seems gigantic, but when you have them together the fluffiness of the kernels and the sweetness of the seasoning does actually register “cake” with my tastebuds. The cereal-esque marshmallow smell definitely comes to life in the flavor with a dominant sweet vanilla powderiness that is pleasant for repeated crunching.
I’m sure something like this has been done before, but most likely in a higher sugar coated kind of popcorn, more like a caramel corn or “drizzle corn”. Those things are good but I like my popcorn as more of an abundance snack than rich hyper intense dessert. Although not the strongest birthday cake flavor, the subtle sweet powdered execution on Target’s “Sweet Salty” brand birthday cake popcorn is a win for me; something that works well on its own or mixed with a salty crunch buddy like Skinny Pop, Smartfood, or Boom Chicka Pop – my three faves.