According to food historians, there is a correlation between the economy and popcorn: When the market tanks, sales of the food spike. So is it any coincidence that shops dedicated to this snack are cropping—ahem, popping—up all over town? Make no mistake, this is not the stuff of movie theaters or carnivals. Offering unique flavors and theatrical displays, these shops and their enthusiastic owners elevate popcorn to an entirely new level. Find out for yourself why it's considered a small bright spot in even dire economic times.
Due to the popularity of her two-year-old Summerlin operation, local popcorn pioneer Laurie Sabol recently opened a second location in Green Valley. Her success is no surprise to artisan popcorn aficionados. Savory flavors such as jalapeño-ranch and loaded baked potato—chock-full of cheese and chives—make great game-day snacks, and seasonal specials such as pumpkin pie are a fun and crunchy alternative to the real thing. You can get your grub by the bag, box or tin, but we'd suggest the latter for taking advantage of refill discounts. And you will be back for more. 8550 W. Charleston Blvd., Suite 109, 258-2676, and 1000 N. Green Valley Parkway, Suite 510, 568-0557, PopcornGirlVegas.com.
Mainstream meets molecular gastronomy at this Henderson shop, where partners Olivier Morowati, Jean-François Chavanel and Zelma Iwatsubo—all hospitality veterans on the Strip—serve up a gourmet popcorn experience. Just pick a flavor (dill pickle is a top seller), and a staffer will flash-freeze your purchase in a bath of liquid nitrogen. The popcorn emerges smoking cold for a snack you just can't re-create at home. The team works on new flavors every day, so if you have an idea, drop in and brainstorm with the gang; creative contributions are rewarded with free popcorn. 9480 S. Eastern Ave., Suite 110, 998-9234, PoppedCornShop.com.
Dyer's Owners Carlton and Stephanie Dyer keep things simple at this small Southwest shop. Inspired by Stephanie's fond childhood memories of buying popcorn after school, the couple churns out a limited menu of flavors for a loyal stable of local customers. Those with a sweet tooth will hanker for the Caramel Delight, while the salt addict will love the cheddar-cheese corn. Of course, if you're indecisive, you could try Stephanie's personal favorite: a combo bag of the two flavors. With popcorn made fresh daily and orders seasoned to taste, the stale bag in the supermarket aisle can't hold a candle to this stuff. 4075 S. Durango Road, 629-2676, DyersPopcorn.com.