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Kettle Corn 101: Turn a Classic Snack into a Thriving Business

a bag of kettle corn spilling out of bag.

Discover the Secrets Behind the Best Kettle Corn

Whether found in the midway at the state fair, at a local farmer’s market, or within the aisles of your local grocery store, kettle corn has made its way into the hearts of snack lovers. With an irresistible mix of sweet and salty flavors, kettle corn is one of the most popular types of popcorn, which means it also represents a remarkable business opportunity. If kettle corn has sparked your curiosity, you’ve come to the right place to learn more.


What is Kettle Corn?

Kettle corn is a type of popcorn that is sweetened with sugar and sprinkled with salt, creating a delicious balance of flavors. Regular popcorn is typically just salted or buttered. However, kettle corn is cooked with sugar that caramelizes during the popping process, giving it a distinctive taste and crunch. It is important to note that kettle corn is different from caramel corn. Caramel corn is heavily coated and made with a cooker mixer, whereas kettle corn is made with a lighter flavor and texture. (Learn more about the differences between kettle corn and caramel corn here.)

Kettle Corn in oil in a large kettle cooking.

The History of Kettle Corn

There is a rich history behind kettle corn that dates to the 18th century in North America. At that time, popcorn was cooked in large kettles over an open fire. Then lard and sugar were added, which not only made it sweet but also gave it a longer shelf life. It is said that kettle corn was first mentioned in the diaries of Pennsylvania Dutch settlers. However, there are also tales of cowboys in the old West making kettle corn with honey or molasses. It is a longtime beloved snack!

Since the 2000s, the popularity of kettle corn has seen a resurgence. It is now sold across a variety of venues. Kettle corn remains popular at event-oriented and entertainment venues like fairs/festivals, amusement parks, or stadiums. It is also found in brick-and-mortar retailers, food trucks, and online. As a result, kettle corn has become a staple snack for many.


How to Make Kettle Corn

Traditional kettle corn was made in a large kettle and hand-mixed with a paddle. That method may be captivating to watch, yet it is very inconsistent and inefficient from a business perspective. For those who want to make kettle corn on a larger scale, investing in a commercial kettle corn machine can be a game-changer.

Kettle Corn Poppers

Gold Medal’s commercial kettle corn machines are sized in 6-oz, 12/14-oz, and 16-oz models. (However, following proper procedures, kettle corn can also be made in regular popcorn machines as well. See more on this option below.) The kettle corn poppers include a stirring mechanism in the kettle to prevent sticking and burning. It also ensures the popcorn is evenly coated with sugar and salt. The heat source in these poppers is also designed specifically for kettle corn and cooks at a lower temperature to avoid burning.

Kettle Corn Supplies

For the best kettle corn taste, Gold Medal recommends using Monster Mushroom Popcorn, Coconut Oil, and Pappy’s Kettle Corn Mix. The Monster Mushroom Popcorn is larger than butterfly and resists breakage. It also is better at holding the sugar and salt coating. Coconut oil has a high smoke point, which makes it ideal for making kettle corn. The high heat tolerance allows the popcorn to pop evenly and the sugar to caramelize properly. Pappy’s Kettle Corn Mix will give you the consistent sweet and salty flavor your customers love batch after batch.

Can You Make Kettle Corn in a Regular Popcorn Machine?

Yes, you can! But it is important to follow the recipe and specific product instructions in order to prevent the sugar from burning. Gold Medal produces a special product for making flavored popcorn straight from the kettle called Glaze Pop®. You can just add it into your kettle with the corn and oil. You’ll love how easy it is to use Glaze Pop!

Glaze Pop comes in a variety of flavors. For that authentic kettle corn taste, use the Pop-N-Glaze Neutral Sweet Frosted Popcorn Mix. Other flavors include caramel, chocolate, red cinnamon, cherry pink, blue raspberry, grape, and caramel apple.

Kettle Corn bags stacked upon each other.

How Profitable is Kettle Corn?

Low-cost ingredients combined with a high demand make kettle corn a profitable pursuit. Profit margins can range as high as 86%, allowing great flexibility for vendors to set their own prices. Labor is also minimal. With the right kettle corn equipment and supplies, businesses can produce larger quantities and maximize their production and sales potential.  


How to Grow Your Kettle Corn Business

Given the popularity and appeal of kettle corn, it is worthwhile to add it to your menu. Here area few strategies to consider for business growth:

  • Diversify your product line by offering a variety of flavors and packaging sizes. This is a way to add excitement and attract different customer segments.
  • Promote your products through social media, local events, and other platforms to reach your audience.
  • Offer samples to entice new prospective customers and boost sales.
  • Develop a user-friendly website where customers can learn about your business and place orders.
  • Expand distribution through wholesale opportunities with retail stores, supermarkets, and specialty shops. Wholesale prices can attract bulk orders.


Kettle corn is more than just an ordinary snack; it’s a delicious experience that combines the best of both sweet and salty worlds. For those in the concession business, kettle corn is a profitable venture. Investing in quality kettle corn equipment and supplies will help you deliver the best kettle corn to your customers. Ensure consistent quality and satisfy the cravings of kettle corn lovers everywhere!



Want to learn more about kettle corn? Reach out to your nearest Gold Medal distributor. And start with these helpful links: