There are two shapes of popcorn for popcorn manufacturers; ‘butterfly’ and ‘mushroom’ corn. The primary difference between the two is the shape of the popped kernel. A mushroom kernel is round in shape like a marble, and best suited for adding coatings such as caramel, cheese, or chocolate, to make gourmet popcorn. This is because the round shape has more surface area for the flavour-infused coverings to be applied in comparison with butterfly popcorn, and this creates a more desirable eating experience.
The shape of popped butterfly popcorn is more irregular and has a number of protruding ‘wings’. Butterfly popcorn lends itself to powdered coatings which get into the crevasses of the popped corn, maximising the flavour, and tends to have a fluffier ‘mouth feel’.
Mushroom kernels have a sturdier shape compared to butterfly popcorn, strong enough to withstand extra handling, and are perceived to be more premium in comparison to butterfly popcorn.