This popcorn will set your soul on fire.

That’s a good thing if you’re like me, and you like to crunch mass quantities of things when you are a.) anxious, b.) stressed, c.) frustrated or d.) home with the sniffles, watching the all-day Elvis movie marathon on TMC. You can’t eat a ton of this popcorn without gulping several glasses of water (or, even better, a glass of milk), since it’s tossed with a searing mix of spices: chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. A few pieces are pleasantly tingly. A few handfuls will turn your mouth into a blazing inferno.

If super-spicy isn’t your style, you can still experiment with other spice mixes to add loads of flavor to your popcorn. Replace the chili powder and cumin with garlic and onion powders for a Cajun corn. Take out the hot stuff, and add Italian seasonings and a little Parmesan for an Italian version. Try wasabi powder. Curry. Pumpkin pie spice. Your choices are only limited by your imagination. And if you draw a blank, there’s always butter.

P.S. Here’s a clip of Elvis’ ’68 comeback special. Today’s his 75th birthday, so put on your best white cotton panties, throw a few random karate kicks, and enjoy the hawtness of The King.

Spicy Southwestern Popcorn

Adapted from The Moosewood Collective’s “Moosewood Restaurant New Classics”

Makes 2 quarts

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
    Spice Mix:

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  1. Using a 6-quart heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and a few kernels over medium heat. When the kernels pop, add the remaining popcorn. Cover with the lid slightly ajar to let out steam.
  2. When the kernels start popping, shake the pot until the popping almost stops. Remove from the heat, and let the final kernels finish popping before you remove the lid. Transfer popcorn to a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the spices. Shake them over the popcorn, and toss thoroughly. Adjust the seasonings to taste.