7 Ways to dress up popcorn

Dec 6, 2013 at 12:12 a.m. ET

While the simplicity of buttery popcorn is indeed a delicious icon of Americana, perhaps we haven't given this little kernel enough credit. Perhaps popcorn is capable of so much more.

Let's be honest: We all like popcorn. Some of us (hand raised) love popcorn. It's the food that says, "You're in for a good time" or "Now it's a party." Popcorn and its tried-and-true sidekick, butter, are embedded in many memories of movie nights, sleepovers, decorating the Christmas tree and so much more. I mean, really, how could popcorn be any better?

Here, friends, are seven ways we're encouraging popcorn to spread its wings and fly.

Join the breakfast table

Popcorn? For breakfast? Why not. If cereal can be dressed up in sugary-sweet duds and have a seat at the morning meal, then popcorn should be given a fair shot as well. C'mon, who wouldn't like to bite into some French toast popcorn, all buttery and coated in sugar and cinnamon with a splash of maple syrup? No knife and fork needed here — just grab a handful and munch your way through the most important meal of the day.

Join forces with unexpected friends

Popcorn is always a welcome guest in front of the football game, but what if popcorn, your lil' smokies sausages and some cheddar cheese cubes got funky and made a mix with some barbecue seasoning. With this, popcorn is no longer on the sidelines — it's is in the game and running for a 50-yard touchdown!

Cheat on butter with flavored olive oils

We don't condone cheating, but if popcorn is going to step out on butter, shouldn't it be with the supermodel, mack-daddy flavors found in infused olive oils? Try a smooth mixture of grated Parmesan cheese and a splash of regular or infused olive oil. You'll get the same melt-in-your-mouth goodness of butter but with the added sophistication and health benefits of olive oil.

Celebrate special occasions

So many birthday parties have seen popcorn sitting lonely in the corner while cake gets all the attention. Why should cake have all the fun? This year, turn your kids' birthday party treats into something they'll really want to celebrate. Ditch the cupcakes and whip up a quick mixture of popcorn, cake mix and sprinkles. You can even coat it with a drizzle of warmed-up icing or chocolate if you want. This way, each kid gets her own cup of confetti-filled fun!

Make it a meal

In the tradition of the breakfast post above, popcorn can also be a fabulous and unexpected lunch course. Try giving your popcorn a bistro makeover. Add some bacon bits, blue cheese, green onions and another drizzle of olive oil to make a popcorn salad. Heck, you could even add some lettuce if you wanted to!

Be bold with flavor

With this one, you'll probably think we've gone too far — but trust me, the exotic mixture of these flavors with the familiarity of popcorn is a real winner when you want to impress party guests. For Thai-style popcorn, add some wasabi peas, shredded carrots, peanuts and red-pepper flakes to your popcorn, then drizzle with a simple peanut butter reduction of peanut butter and soy sauce. Your mouth won't know what hit it!

There's always room for chocolate

Chocolate and popcorn. Popcorn and chocolate. Never was there such a match made in heaven. When all else fails, take these two staples and watch them live happily ever after in triple-chocolate matrimony. Add some mini chocolate chips, a dusting of cocoa powder and a drizzle of chocolate sauce and let popcorn-chocolate love conquer all.