A kernel of wisdom on the popcorn salad trend

Amélia Ávila (’24) | May 10, 2021

Art by Isabella Ortuondo (’23)

From Ayesha Curry’s Home Kitchen to Chopped, Food Network has been home to a wide variety of cooking shows and recipes: one of the latest being Girl Meets Farm. The cooking show follows Molly Yeh and her culinary adventures on her husband’s beet farm in North Dakota. The show revolves around Molly accustoming herself to “farm life” after growing up in the Chicago suburbs. But what truly sets Molly Yeh apart from her Food Network counterparts is her fun and quirky personality. In an embrace of her on-screen persona, she has baked her own funfetti and polka-dot wedding cake. Her go-to inspirational quote is, “If life gives you lemons, squeeze them on schnitzel.” 

Besides her bubbly personality, Yeh is also known for her multicultural recipes. Born to a Chinese father and a Jewish mother, Yeh grew up in a confluence of different cultural ingredients and flavors, some disparate, others unexpectedly similar. Embracing both sides of her heritage, Yeh develops popular cross-cultural recipes like her “Scallion Pancake Challah” and shares them with her nearly 700,000 followers on Instagram. Her recipes often take the Internet by storm. However, Molly Yeh’s latest creation, “Midwestern Popcorn Salad,” went viral for different reasons.

Midwestern Popcorn Salad is precisely what it sounds like: popcorn in a salad. But it’s not just any popcorn. It’s cheese-flavored popcorn mixed into a large dollop of mayonnaise. Obviously, I was skeptical. Sure it sounds gross, but Molly Yeh knows what she’s doing, right? After reading the recipe, I wasn’t sure if I could ever see popcorn the same way again. 

According to Yeh, here is how to make her “iconic Midwestern dish:” first, combine mayo, sour cream, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and Dijon mustard. Then, add the shallot, salt, pepper, snap peas, carrot, and chopped celery. Finally, add the white cheddar popcorn into the mayonnaise mixture, top with watercress, and enjoy. To put it bluntly, let’s say that “enjoy” is wholly conditional on the consumer. 

As predicted, immediately after this recipe was released, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter were not amused. Even CNN did a special segment about Molly Yeh’s Popcorn salad. TikToker Sarah Lugor posted this on Twitter: “if u bring me out some soggy mayo popcorn i will be going to jail that day.” BuzzFeed’s Morgan Sloss bravely attempted to make the infamous recipe. After tasting her popcorn salad, she wrote, “The mayo made the popcorn SOO soggy. […] It was fairly sweet, but not in a good way. And I hated the random crunch of veggies mixed into all the sweet mush.” USAToday also reported on the dish, “‘This is why offices need to remain closed after the pandemic, because I know a couple goofs that would bring this to the office potluck.’” While the popcorn salad has gone viral for its seemingly endless faults, from the overeager servings of mayo to the introduction of peas and watercress, it’s important to remember that quirky recipes invented by quirkier personalities like Molly Yeh are hit-or-miss. 

Don’t get me wrong — Molly Yeh seems like a great person who dreams up even greater recipes. But popcorn salad? That’s a hard pass for me.

Categories: Food

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