We Tried the TikTok-Famous Popcorn Salad and We Have Some Thoughts

This chaotic snack is not for the faint of heart.

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When you hear the term “popcorn salad,” you may think of a crunchy, savory dish with mayo, cheese, veggies and bacon. However, thanks to the young freethinkers on TikTok, there’s a new, strange popcorn salad in town! And, of course, to protect my journalistic integrity, I had to try it. Here are my honest and unfiltered thoughts on the TikTok-famous popcorn salad, as well as tips on how to make your own.

What Is the TikTok Popcorn Salad?

The term “popcorn salad” came into the national consciousness in 2021 when Food Network star Molly Yeh shared her popcorn salad recipe on her show, Girl Meets Farm. She described this “riff on an iconic Midwestern dish” as “so Midwestern, so quirky and so delicious.” While this is also a “popcorn salad,” this is not the trendy TikTok popcorn salad I tried.

The TikTok popcorn salad is more like what some might call a popcorn mix. Basically, it incorporates candies, nuts and other silly junk food into your popcorn to make a sweet, zany, chaotic snack.

@fayes.edit I saw the cool kids are calling this a popcorn salad, I’ve always called it a popcorn mix 🤷🏼‍♀️ #popcornsalad #movienight #easyrecipesathome #easysnackideas #easysnacks ♬ original sound – NZ TATTED MUM

What Goes Into a TikTok Popcorn Salad?

In one prominent video, TikToker Faye (@fayes.edit) adds Maltesers (an English candy like American Whoppers), Cadbury mini eggs and Haribo snack mix to her popcorn. In another, TikToker sillysnorin (@sillysnorin) adds Sour Patch Kids and cheesecake-flavored M&Ms. She also considers adding trail mix, but foregoes it because her brother is allergic.

Generally, popcorn salad uses ultra-buttery popcorn and a few different classes of toppings: something gummy, something sour, something chocolatey and something nutty. Of course, everything should be sickeningly sweet as well.

@sillysnorin Rule no. 1 is always trust the tiktok girlies. This is so yummy! #popcornsalad ♬ original sound – sillysnorin

How I Made My Ideal Popcorn Salad

Ingredients For Tiktok Famous Popcorn Salad Van Van Cleave For Taste Of HomeVan Van Cleave/Taste of Home

Now, because I am an adult and have standards, I treated myself to some nice versions of my favorite childhood candies. After all, no one wants a sugar hangover from a work assignment. Here are the products I selected to make my dream TikTok Popcorn Salad:

Did I consider whether or not the dish’s flavor palette would be cohesive? Absolutely not. In the spirit of this ridiculous snack, I simply selected whatever sounded tasty and threw caution to the wind. What can I say? I want what I want. And if the cool TikTok teens can use refrigerated mystery cheesecake-flavored M&Ms, I can use organic ultra-sour cherry ribbons. To each their own.

Also, check this viral TikTok cucumber salad that you’ve probably seen and wondered if it really works and how it tastes.  These spiraled cucumbers are way easier than they look, try!

How Did I Feel Leading Up to Trying TikTok Popcorn Salad?

At first, preternaturally confident. I love junk food, I love candy, I love popcorn—what could be wrong with combining them? But as I chopped my ultra-sour cherry strips into bite-sized pieces, I felt a wave of uncharacteristic trepidation wash over me. What was I doing? How had my illustrious life path wound to this particular crossroads? How sour were these ultra-sour cherry strips, anyways?

I Tried It: Here’s What I Thought

Salad Toss Tiktok Famous Popcorn Salad Van Van Cleave For Taste Of HomeVan Van Cleave/Taste of Home

I’ll be honest, when I loomed face-to-face over that popcorn salad, the first descriptor that jumped into my head was “unholy.” And as I took bite after bite of this monstrosity, I regret to inform you that my suspicions were confirmed.

Here’s the problem: those sour crystals get on everything. So your salty popcorn is now also studded with citric acid. And while I am a die-hard fan of acidic flavors, sour popcorn wasn’t it. That tart tang really does pair best with fruit, no matter how artificial. Additionally, adding chocolate to hot popcorn means that inevitably some will melt. And while chocolate-covered popcorn is a delight, chocolate-covered peach rings are not.

Of course, there are some undeniable positives to this dish. First, it hits a wide variety of flavor notes so you don’t have to choose just one indulgence. And isn’t that what salad is all about? Additionally, the textural range of crunchy nuts, gummy candy and fluffy popcorn is a delightful break from the brainless monotony of scarfing down a regular bowl of popcorn. And finally, each little gem of candy was still my favorite candy. As in, even the surrounding popcorn couldn’t dull the shine of a sour cherry strip, and in getting to eat those for work in any form, I really can’t complain.

Parting Thoughts

Overall, this snack made me feel like a child on Halloween, plunging my grubby hands into a candy-filled pillowcase and stuffing the contents haphazardly into my mouth. Was it a culinary revelation? Absolutely not. Was it nostalgic as all get out? Definitely. And I suppose, on some particularly stressful days, we could all use a jolt of that childhood abandon—myself included.

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Van Van Cleave
Van Van Cleave (they/them) is a writer and artist working out of Oakland, CA. The youngest in a long line of DIYers and creatives, Van fancies themself an encyclopedia of practicable knowledge for better living. They are passionate about all things food, home, garden, and lifestyle. If you've ever dreamed of befriending the Fab Five, Van gets you, and may just be the next best thing.