Childhood Memories Created With Popcorn, Nuts and Maple Syrup

cracker jacks and poppycock

As we all know, I hate to waste so, when I was on my way to the bin to empty yet another bowl of half eaten popcorn, I thought it would be better to start keeping these leftovers to see what I could do with them. It was only during my monthly purge of my freezer, where I found a selection of nuts, that I put two and two together. Memories of my childhood days, of rummaging through a Cracker Jack box for the nuts as well as the surprise, came flowing back to me.

That sweet and salty combination was so good and so addictive that I decided that it was time to rekindle a few taste memories. Thanks to Michelle and her Brown Eyed Baker blog, I collected all the ingredients out of my pantry for some homemade Cracker Jacks. Since I seldom have corn syrup, I decided to replace it with maple syrup to give the concoction a Canadian feel. I also added some cashews to honor another of my favorite candied popcorn called Poppycock.

Let me know what you think!

You cannot just eat a handful!

You cannot just eat a handful!

Maple Cracker Jacks

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 8 cups

A sweet snack that we were only allowed to have on special occasions. This recipe reminds me of a mix between Cracker Jacks and Poppycock.


  • 8 cups popcorn
  • ½ cup lightly salted peanuts
  • ½ cup roasted cashews
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda


  1. Preheat oven to 150 C.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicone mat.
  3. Pop the popcorn or use leftover popcorn!
  4. Coat a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray, then transfer the popcorn and nuts to the bowl and set aside.
  5. In a small saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt and water, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to simmer, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 212C (250F) on a candy thermometer, about 3 to 4 minutes. Do not over cook.
  6. Turn off the heat, and whisk in the vanilla and baking soda.
  7. Immediately pour the hot mixture over the popcorn. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the caramel into the popcorn until all of the popcorn is coated.
  8. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet, spreading it out.
  9. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Gently break up the popcorn. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
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