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Popcorn Asylum
Bags full of flavor at Popcorn Asylum.

Why is popcorn is such a thing in Chicago? Is it because we’re surrounded by cornfields? Or perhaps because movie theaters are the best place to wait out a blizzard? It must be because the popcorn machine was invented here.

Whatever the reason, we’re fine with it--especially now that the new Lakeview shop Popcorn Asylum has come along to spice things up.

If Garrett’s famous “Chicago Mix” (cheese and caramel) is for Mag Mile tourists, Popcorn Asylum’s outside-the-tin flavors are geared toward local foodies who know to branch out to the city’s neighborhoods for interesting fare.

We set out to sample almost everything on the current menu before we settled on a bag each of the light-as-air, superspicy jalapeño cheddar and a sweet-meets-savory variety flavored with Alaskan birch syrup (small bags cost $3 to $10). Popcorn Asylum’s owners pop their corn in an attached kitchen and rotate in new flavors weekly. (Coming up: chili cheese and strawberry balsamic.)

For our Oscar party in a month, we’re ordering a big batch of the shop’s genius PB&J flavor with natural peanut butter and bits of dried strawberries. (Call a week ahead to place large orders.)

Popcorn Asylum, 2823 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-218-7452 or

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