Remember the Cracker Jack box? I used to buy those small boxes, and feel giddy with anticipation about the surprise gift inside. Now that I think about it, a lot of packaged food items I consumed as a kid featured a special toy or treat inside. Lucky Charm cereals, Cocoa Puffs, frozen dinners, Lunchables, McDonald’s Happy Meals, etc. I’d tear through the package, shake the box around until I spied my treasure buried beneath a pile of crunchy cereal and marshmallows.
Granted, these toys were not anything special. They usually consisted of tiny toy cars, stickers, temporary tattoos, or 3-D cut-out glasses. The real fun was in the surprise of the gift. Of anticipating what’s coming up next. Like hearing the initial notes of your favorite song on the radio or reading the first few pages of a new book.
For the holiday season, that feeling of surprise and joy makes gift-giving fun and special. I spontaneously decided to crank out a few batches to bring over to various family gatherings. Toss them in adorable holiday tins, and presto! Instant edible holiday gifts! Which truly are the best sort of gifts, since they are homemade, thoughtful, and can be enjoyed on spot. For a completely unconventional take on gift-giving, check out Freakonomics entertaining, enlightening podcast. I know it made me feel better about not trudging through the packed malls for hours on end.
The element of surprise in these homemade caramel popcorn treats is in the salted caramel coating. Just when you grab a handful, you delightfully realize that it’s a delicious blend of salty and sweet. And that they can be addicting. Oh, yes, and very, very easy to make. (More later on why I’m a lazy cook). As a bonus, they also taste like Cracker Jacks.
Enjoy the recipe here, courtesy of Food52. Happy Holidays!