Pop's Molasses Popcorn Balls and Taffy

This recipe has been in our family for more than 100 years. My dad's mother would make and pull it on the taffy hook on her kitchen door jam. She would then sell it at the local mercantile in Alberta, Canada. As soon as fall came, my siblings and I would beg Pop to make them. We loved every minute of it, except the burnt hands from the hot syrup, that is. We knew company was coming when they heard Pop was making them. He always let me help when I got old enough. I still make these with my family. The flavor is somewhat like caramel candies. We always double this recipe so we have enough to make taffy and popcorn balls. My pop always made 2 double batches. Posting this recipe has brought back many wonderful and happy memories from my childhood. I do so in honor of my Pop (RIP 1917-1997).

Prep Time:
45 mins
Cook Time:
7 mins
Additional Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 2 mins
12 popcorn balls


  • 6 cups popped popcorn, or as needed

  • ice water

  • 2 cups white sugar

  • 1 cup light corn syrup (such as Karo®)

  • ½ cup dark molasses

  • ½ cup water

  • ¼ cup butter

  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Place popcorn in a large bowl, with room for mixing. Fill another bowl with ice water. Butter several plates, one per each person who will be pulling taffy.

  2. Combine sugar, corn syrup, molasses, water, butter, and salt in a large 6-quart saucepan over medium heat; attach a candy thermometer. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Tip the pan slightly to melt the sugar crystals on the sides, scraping down with a wooden spoon. Heat until the mixture registers 300 to 310 degrees F (149 to 155 degrees C) on the thermometer or until a small amount of syrup drizzled into cold water turns hard, 7 to 10 minutes.

  3. Pour about 1 cup syrup onto each buttered plate. Let cool until safe to handle like a hot potato, 3 to 5 minutes. Pull syrup between your hands until a light golden brown color is achieved; the longer you pull it, the lighter it becomes. Twist into a long rope about 3/4-inch thick and place on back on a buttered plate to let taffy harden and cool. Break the hardened taffy apart.

  4. Pour the remaining hot syrup carefully over popcorn, while someone else quickly stirs the batch. Butter your hands and dip them in the ice water; working quickly to avoid burns and before taffy hardens, grab some of the popcorn mixture and form into a 3-inch ball. Repeat with the remaining popcorn.

Cook's Notes:

Have one person pour the syrup and someone else stir the batch in step 4. Be careful to keep hands out of the way of the syrup, as it causes bad burns.

Work quickly, as the popcorn mixture hardens fast and will burn your hands if you don't.

Store taffy in airtight containers or wrap in wax paper. Taffy will stick together if you don't keep it separated.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

312 Calories
6g Fat
67g Carbs
0g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 312
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 207mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 67g 24%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 48g
Protein 0g
Calcium 36mg 3%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 213mg 5%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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