CHICAGO - Garrett Popcorn Shops let us "pop" into the kitchen for a behind the scenes look at how this delicious Chicago treat is made.
Every batch, whether made in Chicago or Tokyo, Japan (yes, there are stores in Asia), starts with air-popped kernels specially grown for Garrett. Then, the process differs based on what flavor popcorn is being made.
Some of the corn is tossed into tumblers along with the signature cheese sauce, which includes Wisconsin cheddar.
While this is happening at a Michigan Avenue store, the brass kettles across the kitchen simmer with bubbling CaramelCrisp. The secret mixture of five regular household ingredients is then stirred with the fresh kernels until each piece of popcorn is smothered in the gooey topping. The batch of CaramelCrisp is then transferred to a cooling tray where staff members hand-toss the mixture, removing any uncovered kernels for quality control.
After the CheeseCorn and CaramelCrisp batches are ready, employees take them out front and pour the mouth-watering treats into giant vats. But the hand-crafted snack is only half-way home because bagging is itself an art form. Employees spend two weeks training to ensure perfect packaging, down to the bag's seal.
For a Garrett Mix bag, employees pour two even scoops of CaramelCrisp and CheeseCorn. The cheesy stuff always goes at the bottom because the heavier caramel concoction will sink. Staff then grip a bottom corner and the opposite side's lip of the bag and shake it rapidly. Finally, the popcorn makers fold down the bag twice before pinching the crease into a "z," sealing in that tradition of flavor.