My preconceptions of naga chilli products are different to most. Here is a photograph of me taken during an afternoon spent repackaging naga bhut jolokia chilli powder. Yes, the face mask was entirely necessary. The itchy throat and tingly fingers reminded me only too well that I was dealing with one of the hottest chilli peppers in the world – used as tear gas in India, and ranked ten times higher than Scotch Bonnets on the Scoville Scale which measures chilli hotness.
With this association of naga in mind, and also packaging which pictured a fire-breathing man, I was expecting something hot. I mean, really hot.
The Snaxco popcorn was really quick and easy to make, as is the way with microwavable popcorn. Just a couple of minutes in the microwave, until the popping slowed to 2 seconds between pops. I tipped it into a bowl, and hey presto.
The popcorn was charmingly spicy. It warmed the inside of my mouth, and made my lips pleasantly tingly. But nothing eye-watering. And here lies my only criticism of the product – there’s some incontinuity between the packaging and the popcorn. It’s packaged in a laddish way: ‘Fire in the Hole’ the website threatens, bandying about the word ‘naga’ like the popcorn is quite literally going to blow my head off. It’s marketed almost like something you’d eat as a dare. But the actual product is delicious. A lovely, amount of heat. Just perfect. But certainly not something which is going to make me breathe fire.
New popcorn companies are quite literally popping-up all over Britain at the moment. I suppose it’s cheap to produce, and is popular as a low-calorie snack. There’s Joe & Seph’s, King’s Road Gourmet Popcorn, Blooms, Portlebay Popcorn, Popcorn Kitchen, Drum & Kernal, Metcalfe’s Skinny Popcorn, Peter Popple’s Popcorn … you get the picture. But flavours have generally been down-the-line sweet or salty (Joe & Seph’s excluded). Interestingly, look at American popcorn brands, and there’s lots more savoury experimentation, such as Pop Gourmet Popcorn’s Sriracha and jalapeño flavours. As American food trends have a way of crossing the Atlantic eventually, perhaps Snax Co. are onto something.
So best of luck to them. If my only criticism is the incongruity between the Tear Gas Chilli packaging, and the tasty product, then that’s quite a good thing really.
See the tour dates on the Naga Chilli Popcorn website: www.epicsnax.com