If there is one thing that is predictable, it’s that one of my kids will ask for popcorn when we’re watching a movie at home. They don’t typically ask at the start of the movie — it’s usually too soon after dinner — but by the time the film is about halfway over, one of them will usually ask if we can pop some. That usually leads to a pause in the movie and a trek over to the kitchen to fill the order.
Microwave popcorn isn’t the best popcorn out there, but it does have a couple of virtues: namely, that it’s easy and it’s hot. Alternatives like popping kernels are hot but not quite as easy because it requires special equipment, and bagged popcorn is easy but not as hot. That’s why microwave popcorn remains a regular on store shelves.
You probably don’t think of Dollar General when you think of microwave popcorn. But the store does, in fact, sell both name brand and store brand versions of the product. Here we’ll take a look at the store brand.
Clover Valley Movie Theater Butter Microwave Popcorn can be found in the dry goods section of Dollar General. The box we found contained three microwaveable bags. Clover Valley is a Dollar General private label, which means it’s exclusive to the store.
The nutrition information and ingredients are a mixed bag (no pun intended). On the positive side, there are relatively few ingredients, and most of them are recognizable, like oils, salt, butter, and of course popcorn.
But you wouldn’t expect something called movie theater butter popcorn to be good for you, and it isn’t. The math on the bag might seem a little confusing, but in short a full bag of popcorn is going to have over 20% of your recommended daily amount of sodium, more than 30% of your recommended amount of saturated fat, and about 30 grams of carbs to boot. So, it’s not a health food.
There’s a bit of an art to cooking microwave popcorn, because there is a fine line between having a bunch of unpopped kernels and having a bag full of burned popcorn. The instructions are a little confusing, too, because the the box and the bag give somewhat different time instructions. If you’ve made other microwave popcorn bags, you’ll be right at home, but if you haven’t, there are some guidelines to follow.
First off, you remove the plastic wrap and place the bag in the microwave with the THIS SIDE UP part facing up. Like most bags, that will have the folds facing up. Then, you microwave it.
The bag says to cook from 1 minute 30 seconds to 2 minutes 30 seconds on high, while the box says to cook for 1 minute 45 seconds. Unless your microwave has a track record of being underpowered, you probably will want to go with the 1 minute 45 seconds. Even then, though, you’ll want to stay near the microwave and listen carefully. When the popping slows to the point where there are 1-2 second gaps in popping, you’re done. I reached that point at about the 1 minute 30 second mark, and I had very few unpopped kernels left.
As the instructions warn, the bag will be hot when done and there will be hot steam inside. To open, make sure you’re opening away from your face and pulling at the corners. My bag didn’t open as cleanly as I’d like — it tore open rather than pulled open — but I didn’t lose anything in the process other than having a somewhat torn bag.
We found the popcorn to taste like most other microwave popcorn we’d had. It was hot, fluffy and crisp, and had the expected amount of butter. I’ve never found “movie theater butter” popcorn in the microwave bags to taste exactly like movie theater butter popcorn, but this is good and tastes comparable to other store-bought brands I’ve had before.
Our family ate the entire bag long before our movie was over.
Clover Valley Movie Theater Butter Microwave Popcorn will look and taste familiar to people who use other brands of microwave popcorn. It’s easy to make and tastes good. Like any microwave popcorn, you’ll want to watch it closely while cooking, but if you do that you’ll have a nice complement for movie night.