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Nancy Beck’s Not-Healthy Popcorn Balls

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Popcorn Balls

Nancy Beck's Not-Healthy Popcorn Balls can be filled with gumdrops, candy corns or any other candy you like. Wrap them in cellophane and tie with orange ribbon and a spider for an adorable homemade Halloween treat.

This week, we’ve gotten inspired, both by the fact that it’s October and by our October Buzz magazines. In this month’s Back Porch, we ask the very important question: “What is your favorite Halloween candy?” and also, “What are your thoughts on healthy treats for trick-or-treat?”

The funny thing is that as silly as this question sounds, I have never received so many opinions from readers. As for candy, everyone has a favorite. And for healthy treats, I’ll tell you now: You won’t be very popular with anyone – kids or adults – if you’re planning on doling them out in lieu of the sugary stuff. Who knew everyone wanted to talk about Halloween candy? Are we all addicted to sugar? (Probably.) What other light and fluffy questions am I overlooking? (Please, please tell me!)

Mostly, people wanted to talk about the candy you can get at any Walgreens or H-E-B. We’re talking all the subtle nuances of bite-sized Snickers and Twixes, and the debates on whether candy corns are delicious or disgusting, and the preference for hard, sugary candy versus the chocolate varieties. People are opinionated.

But one friend offered a recipe for Not-Healthy Popcorn Balls that she says were the be-all-end-all when she was growing up. 

“They were the coveted treat in the 1950s in my hometown of Amarillo,” our super-witty friend Nancy Beck says. “I make them annually with orange and black gumdrops inside.”

And on the subject of healthy treats, Nancy adds, “I would not consider giving a healthy treat at Halloween. Every child should go to bed with chocolate smeared on their face and sugar beads between the sheets.”

A big thanks to Nancy for keeping Halloween old-school – both with her strong opinion on raisins as treats, and with her classic recipe for Not-Healthy Popcorn Balls.

Nancy’s Beck’s Not-Healthy Halloween Popcorn Balls 
“This makes huge, six-inch popcorn balls,” Nancy says.


4 tablespoons vanilla
½ cup light corn syrup
1 cup margarine
4 cups powdered sugar
4 cups marshmallows
10 quarts plain, popped popcorn
Orange and black gumdrops

Recipe directions

A quart of popcorn will yield 4 to 5 popcorn balls. Melt the first 6 ingredients together, and pour over popcorn. I use a large lobster pot to mix. Lightly grease your hands with cooking oil. Squeeze orange and black gum drops together and build the popcorn around them until they are covered. Cover the balls with cellophane and tie with a big plastic spider and an orange ribbon. 

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