Molly Yeh's Viral Salad Recipe Features One Very Surprising Ingredient

Over the past week, people have noticed Molly Yeh's Crunchy Snap Pea Popcorn Salad recipe. Judging by comments on the recipe's page on the Food Network website, the, in Yeh's words, "so Midwestern, so quirky, and so delicious" dish has been there since April 2020.

The recipe itself is rather straightforward. Pop the popcorn, and stir in the white cheddar seasoning while it's still warm. As it cools, combine mayonnaise, dijon mustard, sour cream, sugar, and cider vinegar, whisking it. Add veggies, which include carrots, snap peas, and chopped celery. Add popcorn.

However, the reviews for the recipe average at 3.5 stars as people rated the dish at either extreme. The reaction on the rest of the web has tended toward the negative. News 18 quotes one person dubbing it a "recipe from hell." Another person in denial wrote, "No way this is a real recipe. Got to be a parody." Metro found views that dubbed it a "crime against humanity" and one who believed it to be a poorly timed April Fool's joke.

No, popcorn salad is not some recently invented monstrosity

The strange part of the reaction is how it is concentrated around Molly Yeh's recipe. A popcorn salad is by no means a novel concept. In a "What's for Dinner" segment from 2013, TMJ4, a Milwaukee television station, featured popcorn salad. In The Takeout, Allison Robicelli also notes that popcorn has been paired with foods in Michelin-starred restaurants without a similar outcry.

There are two likely reasons for the reaction. First, some may strongly associate popcorn with a hard crunch, meaning the idea of it soaking mayonnaise becomes off-putting. The other reason could be a general view that salads are healthy, so including a snack in them upends that. This ignores how often salads can be made unhealthy to appeal to one's palate.

To be fair, though, some have tried the recipe. For Buzzfeed, Morgan Sloss made Molly Yeh's popcorn salad. She hated it: "The mayo made the popcorn SOO soggy. Overall, it was fairly sweet, but not in a good way. And I hated the random crunch of veggies mixed into all that sweet mush." And that's fair. But to act as if this is some monstrosity made by Molly Yeh that no one would ever eat is completely overblown.