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Add a Patriotic 'Pop' to Fourth of July Parties

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(Family Features) Break out the red, white and blue and (safely) set off your favorite fireworks – it’s time to honor America’s birthday. Along with all the booms and blasts, make sure your crowd is satisfied with one of the country’s most beloved snack foods and a true firecracker in the kitchen: popcorn.

Celebrated for its seed-to-snack simplicity, popcorn’s smell, taste and versatility mean it can enhance any occasion as a budget-friendly solution for family gatherings. As a timeless treat nationwide, it’s an especially perfect partner for Fourth of July get-togethers as it bursts while cooking and brings a thrill to the senses.

Whether your gathering will take place poolside, in air-conditioned comfort or while watching spectacular fireworks shows among the backdrop of the night sky, tasty treats that honor the occasion allow you to show off your patriotic pride.

These Peanut Butter Cups are an ideal summer snack that’s easy to prepare with everyday ingredients. All you need to do is melt together peanut butter, butter and marshmallows then mix in popcorn, shredded wheat, peanuts and raisins. Bake in individual paper liners for grab-and-go convenience then share with your nearest and dearest. For added flair, use American flag-themed liners or finish your creation with toothpicks connected to miniature American flags.

Add a touch of heat to this year’s celebrations with Cinnamon Candy Poppers that bring a real bang to the snack table. Inspired by those classic firecrackers that a Fourth of July party can’t go without, these balls of ooey-gooey goodness provide a truly patriotic spark.

Find more popcorn-inspired snacks for your summer celebrations at Popcorn.org.

Peanut Butter Cups

Yield: 24 cups

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 package (10 1/2 ounces) miniature marshmallows
  • 6 cups freshly popped popcorn
  • 6 cups spoon-size shredded wheat
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 250 F.
  2. In microwave on high heat using large, microwavable bowl, melt peanut butter and butter 1 minute.
  3. Add marshmallows and microwave on high 1 minute, or until marshmallows puff; stir.
  4. Add popcorn, shredded wheat, peanuts and raisins; stir gently.
  5. Place paper liners in two 12-cup muffin pans. Divide mixture into 24 cups.
  6. Bake 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and tore "cups" in airtight container.

Cinnamon Candy Poppers

Yield: 24 balls

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3 quarts popped popcorn
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
  • 3 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon-flavored candies
  • red and blue confection stars
  • red licorice string
  1. Spread large sheet of plastic wrap on work surface and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Spray large mixing bowl lightly with nonstick cooking spray and place popcorn inside.
  3. In medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Stir in marshmallows until melted and mixture is smooth. Pour over popcorn. Add cinnamon candies and mix well until coated.
  4. Spray hands with nonstick cooking spray and form mixture into 24 balls. Gently press red and blue stars onto each ball. Place piece of licorice string on top of each ball.