Foodstuff: Top of the popcorn

It may not suit an ad campaign of being strategically placed on naked bodies, but popcorn is being hailed as the "new Haagen-Dazs" - and can offer plenty of indulgence.

Kettle, the company that has persuaded many of us to part with nearly two pounds for a bag of crisps - albeit very nice hand-cooked ones - started it off with Cinamon and Apple popcorn and then American Maple Syrup popcorn.

Now a UK company, Devereux Renny, has launched a new range of exotic popcorn in what they describe as "tormentingly indulgent flavours designed to swamp your taste buds with pleasure".

Banoffee popcorn, Buttery Butterscotch and Exotic Chocolate and Coconut, to name a few, are the invention of 26 year old Managing Director Sarah Renny who started the company after importing popcorn from the US and realising that she could "do things with popcorn that hadn't been done before".

Popcorn in it's natural state is low in fat and high in fibre, but Sarah's new range certainly isn't aimed at the health conscious. "We use lots of fresh cream, butter and sugar. I don't put the calorie intake on the back of the packet simply because I don't want people to know !" she admits.

One of Devereux Renny's biggest hits in the last few weeks has been Mince Pie popcorn, although Sarah won't be curling up on the sofa over Christmas with a bag.

"I invented the stuff but I have to admit it was more for novelty than taste. If you like mince pies you'll love it - but I don't. Personally I think our other flavours are much nicer."

Bags of Devereux Renny popcorn ( price 69p for 70g ) are available from Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons.

Five things you may not know about popcorn

l Popcorn was invented by North American lndians after they sprinkled their harvest on hot stones.

l Popcorn pops because the kernel contains a small amount of water stored in a circle of soft starch inside a hard outer casing. When heated the water expands and creates pressure until the kernel explodes.

l Kernels that fail to pop are known as "old maids". They don't have sufficient water to create the necessary pressure.

l In the UK most popcorn is sold in cinemas. People in the South prefer sweet flavours while Northerners like salted popcorn.

l In the USA a Texan company has just launched flavoured popcorn for dogs.

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