Boris Tsang / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Students enjoy a variety of of popcorn flavors for free at the Willard Straight Hall Resource Center.

February 28, 2019

Inside the Process of Creating the Newest Willard Straight Popcorn Flavor ‘Dark Chocolate’

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Willard Straight Hall currently offers a trove of popcorn flavors, including one that shamelessly mixes all the current savory and sweet flavors — sugar, butter, garlic, cinnamon, salt and pumpkin spice. Now, they’ll add one more tantalizing taste to the bizarre blend — dark chocolate, a mix of sugar and cocoa powder.

Patrons of the popcorn stand are not limited to existing flavors and can create their own concoction of available flavors and recommend new flavors in the suggestion basket next to the stand.

Deciding new flavors is a detailed process involving student feedback. Once suggestions are submitted — “mushroom” and “olive oil” being among the more daring ones — their fate is then fervently discussed at manager meetings, followed by a trial period, according to stand manager Maya Cutforth ’20. The results are then recorded in a Google spreadsheet that students opt to fill out as they receive their treat.

In the case of the dark chocolate flavor, a general staff meeting was held in addition to the manager meetings, during which six buckets of popcorn with different flavors were taste tested.

This was succeeded by a trial period that narrowed down the final flavors to white cheddar, taco and dark chocolate, according to Cutforth, who has worked at the stand since her sophomore year.

Ultimately, patrons’ taste buds decided on the dark chocolate flavor. The process took about a month of planning, testing and discussing.

The length of the trial period for dark chocolate, however, is currently undetermined. “That’s what makes it exciting. We try to give the people what they want,” Cutforth said.

It could have a similar fate to pumpkin spice, which was so popular that it is now a permanent flavor, Cutforth said.

The popcorn stand has kept a strong reputation among Cornellians, some of whom attend the stand so routinely that they simply ask for “the usual” and are provided with their desired order, according to Cutforth.

“A lot of crazy things happen at the popcorn stand,” Cutforth said, adding that Ryan Lombardi, vice president of student and campus life, will be helping serve popcorn on April 11.

So whether patrons like sweet, savory or a mix of all flavors called “The Abomination,” the Willard Straight Popcorn stand continues to concoct new combinations.