One of the places that I love to visit when I'm in Pittsburgh is The Strip District. The Strip District is a neighborhood in Pittsburgh which is known for its plethora of ethnic food stores, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. On the weekends, the streets buzz with street vendors, but that was only a secondary reason for my visit to The Strip on Sunday, July 3. On that day, I was there for the popcorn.
Pittsburgh Popcorn Company has three locations - Oakland, Downtown, and The Strip - and I would have been happy to visit any one of them if they had what I was looking for. On this particular Sunday, only one of the three locations did, so on this lovely Sunday morning, I found myself wandering down Penn Avenue searching for dill pickle popcorn.
I first tried PPC's dill pickle popcorn about a year ago when I was working across the street from their Downtown location, and I have been obsessed with it ever since. PPC has a set menu of flavors and a rotating weekly menu of specialty flavors. Every time I visit Pittsburgh, I check the menu to see if they are offering my beloved dill pickle popcorn, but for the last few months, I have missed it every time it was available (usually by only one day). On July 3, the planets aligned and finally I was in the right place at the right time. I bought the second largest bag they offer.
A friend, upon trying it for the first time, described it as tasting like the pickles on a Big Mac. To me, it just takes like pickles and popcorn. It is a well balanced combination of vinegar, salt, and dill on a crispy vehicle of naturally sweet popcorn.
PPC offers other delightful flavors which are all eclipsed in my mind by the magnificent dilliness of the dill pickle flavor, but I suppose I should talk about some of the other flavors as well.
The Wisconsin Cheddar is pretty standard; although, sometimes they don't mix it properly and there are lumps of cheddar powder which I refer to as "cheddar bombs". Overall, when not mixed properly, it can be a little overpowering, but the cheddar flavor tastes great in moderation.
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Popcorn is one of their signature flavors. It is my sister April's favorite flavor. It is standard popcorn which has been unevenly coated with what tastes like a melted Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. The uneven coating is very important in this case as it offers a welcome break from the richness of the chocolate and peanut butter. I find that when I hit a pocket of popcorn which hasn't been coated, it helps me to enjoy the coated popcorn all the more.
Nutella is quite similar to the Reese's and Peanut Butter Cup, but with hazelnut instead of peanut butter. Like the dill pickle popcorn, it is one of the specialty flavors.
Smacker Jacks is much like the snack with the "coincidentally" similar name (*wink, wink*). It is standard caramel popcorn with peanuts, but honestly, that combination has always been a bit sweet for my tastes even when it shares its storage container with a mystery prize.
Finally, I have also tried the Buttery Movie Style. It was pretty standard, but instead of the flavored trans-fats that most movie theaters call "buttery topping", it is topped with actual butter.
If you are in the far flung reaches of the United States, it is important to note that the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company does ship nationally. Unfortunately, they do not ship their specialty flavors, so you have to trek to Pittsburgh to indulge in Nutella, Dill Pickle, Cajun, or Watermelon flavored popcorn, but in my opinion it is completely worth the trip.