Regular popcorn and kettle corn are made from different types of corn. As a result, they differ in the flake shapes of the popped kernels.
Regular popcorn comes from butterfly flakes or snowflakes, which are irregular in shape with many popping “wings” that stick out, hence the name. Butterfly flakes are much more tender and have a better mouthfeel.
Mushroom flakes, used to make kettle corn, are mostly spherical in shape and can be either round or oblong. As a result, they have a much more chewy and tender texture. Also, mushroom popcorn kernels are much harder, making them perfect for popping sugar kettle corn.
If you make them the traditional way, with reasonable ratios of salt and sugar, regular popcorn and kettle corn have nearly the same number of calories.
Plain, air-popped popcorn is a go-to option if you want to include popcorn in your weight management plan and base your meals on a popcorn-friendly diet. Adding a sprinkle of salt, cocoa powder, or cinnamon can add extra flavor without adding sugar or fat.
Although both varieties are generally healthier if you make them without excessive salt, oil, or sugar, indulging in popcorn’s savory or sweet crunchiness once in a while will not do any harm.