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Your hands will be a sticky sweet mess when you dig into this South Jersey Boardwalk Caramel Corn — just like the iconic Johnson’s Popcorn we all know and love!
What food represents your hometown? That’s the question all of us at #SundaySupper had to think about for this week’s Hometown Foods theme hosted by Coleen of The Redhead Baker. It’s actually a pretty hard question. For my hometown of Egg Harbor Township, a pretty large suburb of Atlantic City, New Jersey, things like Primo’s and Mack and Manco’s Pizza were one of the first things to come to mind, followed by Wawa — yes, just Wawa. Not a specific food or anything, just the whole entire concept. So that was kind of out of the question. Then there’s the whole sub thing — White House Subs or Atlantic City Sub Shop with just the right rolls so perfectly soft on the inside and just a tad hard on the outside. So much food, what would I choose?! Then it hit me. The Ocean City Boardwalk is a totally iconic part of South Jersey life. Whether you’re from my town, EHT, or any of the neighboring towns, we all spent summers walking up and down the boards with our friends, eating all the wonderfully greasy and delicious boardwalk fries, funnel cake, monkey bread and….Johnson’s Popcorn, that super sweet, sticky, almost dessert-like popcorn.
Some may look at it and just call it caramel corn and that’s that — but it is so much more. Johnson’s has been around since 1940 and is an Ocean City Boardwalk staple. You can’t visit without devouring a tub full of this stuff. There’s nothing better than getting one of those huge gift tins full of popcorn. With so many different foods I could have chosen to represent my hometown in South Jersey, nothing felt as significant as Johnson’s. I had to make my own South Jersey Boardwalk Caramel Corn!
A few simple ingredients are all it takes to replicate this delicious crunchy snack. I have no idea what the actual original recipe is — apparently anyone who works there was sworn to secrecy and even had to sign off that they’d never tell! But this copycat recipe works just as well and tastes just as good!
- 1 cup popcorn kernels
- 2 tbsp cooking oil of choice
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 2-3 cups brown sugar
- 2 tbsp molasses
- Heat a 1½ qt pot on medium heat and add kernels. There should be enough to coat the entire bottom of the pot.
- Add oil and toss the make sure all of the kernels are coated.
- Cover and let cook until the kernels have popped and filled the pot. This should take about 6-8 minutes.
- Empty the popcorn into another container and immediately add butter and brown sugar to the pot while it's still hot.
- Once the butter has started to melt, add the molasses and stir until it becomes a gooey liquid.
- Stir in the popcorn until its well coated.
- Let sit for 1-2 minutes until the brown sugar mixture starts to bubble, and then continue to toss the popcorn. Repeat twice.
- Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes or until the brown sugar mixture has set.
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