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Feb 28, 2006 09:39 AM

Garrett's Popcorn - Is It Just Me???

  • l

Last weekend, after finding our favored location around the corner from the Chicago Theater closed, we stopped at the Garrett's on Madison and State for what's normally one of my ultimate snack craves - carmelcrisp. It only took a couple bites to realize that something was very wrong. Although it wasn't inedible, that familiar Garrett's taste was gone - my little 4 oz bag was nothing more than average (but still crispy)carmel corn. It seemed to lack the super caramelly, buttery taste I've come to know and love from Garrett's and I noticed that I hardly needed a napkin to get through the bag (again, a total aberration from the usual). My husband concurred. Has anybody else noticed this disturbing change or is it just me? I'm worried that the sale has already affected the quality of the product. Since our last visit, the entire store had been rehabbed (modernized) and I heard they're adding soda & expanding the number of stores (one to include the Metra station).

I'm willing to give them one more try or try a different location if other Hounds have noticed no change in quality. Otherwise, I'm done. It will no longer be worth the hassle or calories. Probably better for my health but I'm going to miss it!

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  1. Garrett will soon open another location - in the Citicorp Center at 500 W. Madison St.

    1. While I haven't had Garrett's in about two months, the last couple of times I did get it, it was fabulous. I have not noticed a change--still needed multiple napkins to get through my bag o' mini mix. Hopefully, your visit was an aberration.

      1. Well, unfortunately, I can't answer your question - as I'm a thousand miles away and have never had the stuff!

        However, I do hope some will chime in with recent feedback soon, as Garrett's is one of the places I was looking forward to hitting on my upcoming visit, and I'd hate to be disappointed!

        Kind regards,

        2 Replies
        1. re: AlisonNC

          Alison, you have something to look forward to. It tells you something when the line of people waiting to buy Garrett's snakes out the door and down the street in a snowstorm.

          1. re: Querencia

            Alison visited six years ago. But I'm glad this thread was resurrected for those of us visiting soon.

        2. I've never had any, but I work just a half block away. So purely in the interests of science, if someone will tell me what to order, and what qualities I am evaluating, I'll go get some this afternoon and make a report.

          (I'm out of the office tomorrow, and all next week, so this is a time limited offer...)

          1 Reply
          1. re: Anne H

            I hope it isn't presumptious of me to answer, as I've never experienced it either, but since I've a vested interest in knowing the answer, and since yours is a time-sensitive offer, here goes! :o)

            Here's a snippet from the review at

            "Generally speaking, candy-coated popcorn is a trivial junk food. CaramelCrisp is serious and soulful, its taste and texture dramatically more important than any other kind of candied corn. In fact, it doesn’t really taste candied at all. The popcorn itself is a tender, earthy note within its caramel sheath, which is deeply buttery and has a dark flavor that teeters at the edge of tasting burnt. Like the singed crust atop a well-made crème brulee, the corn’s coat smacks of fire more than sugar."

            Entire review can be seen at

            So, I'd say get the CaramelCrisp, compare it to what you're used to as "caramel corn", and see if it's a more soul-feeding experience than "just" caramel corn. (?
            I'm assuming it's okay to reference Roadfood, since people referencing Chowhound there is how I ended up here! :-)


          2. I have only been to the Garrett’s Popcorn on Michigan Ave. and I try and stop whenever I see a short line which doesn’t happen often.

            I do believe, it is the only place on Michigan Ave. that has a guard to keep people out – once inside the door, the wait is still about 30 minutes.

            I like the plain popcorn and my wife love the caramel corn – with either make sure that you have napkins.

            I have never had a bad experience or popcosrn that I didn't like - just imagine the crowds if thay also served a cold brew!

            8 Replies
            1. re: Gfw

              Holy carp!!! Are you serious?!?? Oh how I wish you weren't serious. This makes for a major dilemma for me. Oh how I HATE lines, but oh how I LOVE caramel corn, and this stuff sounds devine! But a 30 minute wait - only after you've gotten through the line to get into the door??? How long can it take to scoop popcorn?!?!! My heart may be broken.

              Any advice anyone?

              1. re: AlisonNC

                If you are married, merely have your spouse do the line thing while you go shopping :~}

                We have also had good luck with shorter lines later in the day or evening... Good luck and have fun in Chicago!

                1. re: Gfw

                  I am, and I daresay he might even agree to it just to keep me happy (I **really** hate lines!). Unfortunately, I'll be with Mom, not DH, and that just wouldn't be right! :-O

                  Later in the day/evening. I'll try.

                  And thanks for the well-wishes, it's looking to be a fabulous visit. (Wicked, Blue Man Group, Topolobampo, Santorino, Keefer's, tea at the Ritz, visiting with friends, shopping)


                  1. re: AlisonNC

                    The Michigan ave one will be crowded. But try the one on Jackson and State. Relatively close to Wicked (maybe 3-4 block walk south). Less congested even during the holiday rush. (I work on Jackson). I always get the cheese and carmel mix. Cuts down on the sweetness of carmel and I don't know, it's just an awesome combo. Your hands will be orange after the cheese so bring wet naps!

                    1. re: bird

                      The one on Michigan is great,but avoid Jackson Blvd very pasty cheese.
                      They are not all the same anymore.

                      1. re: bird

                        The one on Michigan is great,but avoid Jackson Blvd very pasty cheese.
                        They are not all the same anymore.

                        1. re: John

                          nah, it's not pasty. but that's just my view.

                      2. re: AlisonNC

                        Nice choices - especially Wicked - one clue for Wicked, pay close attention to the beginning and you will know the ending - it was one of the BEST (musical/comedy) shows that I've seen. You'll never look at the 'Wizzard of Oz' the same way after seeing Wicked!