To make old-fashioned popcorn balls, heat a mixture of butter, sugar, corn syrup and salt in a saucepan until it reaches about 270 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour the sugar mixture over freshly popped popcorn, then form the coated popcorn into balls and allow it to set. Recipes for old-fashioned popcorn balls are available on JollyTime.com and ToriAvey.com as of 2015.
To make Jolly Time's recipe for old-fashioned popcorn balls, pop around 8 cups of popcorn in the microwave, and then place the popped popcorn in an oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit to keep it warm. While the popcorn is in the oven, add 1 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 cup of butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a large saucepan. Cook the ingredients on medium heat, stirring constantly, until a thermometer reads 270 degrees F.
Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Remove the popcorn from the oven. Pour the syrup over the popcorn, stirring to coat each kernel evenly. Allow the mixture to sit until it is just cool enough to handle, butter your hands, and then roll the mixture into balls. Place the balls on foil or wax paper to cool completely.
Tori Avey's recipe for popcorn balls is similar but makes a smaller batch. This recipe omits the butter and substitutes oil and vinegar.