Pink Popcorn: The San Francisco Treat

Pink popcorn was always something I had taken for granted. You would go to the ballpark and get it. You could go to the zoo and get it. Any event that occurred within the Bay Area you would find Wrights pink popcorn. It was like Coke™, where ever you went it was there. What I didn’t realize in my very San Francisco-centric thinking was that it was a San Francisco creation.

Since finding this information I’ve been trying to track down the history of this confection that is taken for granted. I’ve heard stories that the chemicals used to coat the popcorn causes cancer [just like everything else you eat] to it being first made in the 1800’s in San Francisco. I have even called the company that’s located now on Potrero Avenue in the City as well as emailed them, but have yet to hear from them directly.

From Wrights website they mention that they started in the 40’s and that’s as much of a history as I can get about them. I’m not sure who Mr. or Mrs. Wrights is, but they don’t really want you to know about them. I was able to find a couple of guys who did an interview with NPR who were flavor agents that made the flavorings for many high profile food products which I cannot mention, but they did say that they were the ones who created the pink glaze for the popcorn and it was bubble gum flavored. Somehow bubble gum flavored popcorn doesn’t sound as good as it tasted as a kid. Bubble gum was something you chewed and spit out, not chewed and swallowed as my mother always reminded me when I would chew and swallow a piece of Bazooka Joe [as an adult I used to buy tubs of the stuff along with red vines just to satisfy the kid still in me struggling to get out].

I think it’s about time that our Interim Mayor, Ed Lee recognize Wrights pink popcorn as a official San Francisco Treat. When public officials come  to San Francisco Wrights pink popcorn should be in the baskets he presents to them not organic hot dogs like he’s given in the past. This is a company unlike others that started in San Francisco like the It’s-it and Sees candy that have moved to the peninsula, but a San Francisco company that has actually stayed in San Francisco. Sure we have Twitter, but compared to a company started in the 40’s Twitter is an infant.

While Wrights website could use an update they’re more about the product we all take for granted. While I hadn’t seen it at my last trip to the San Francisco Zoo I understand you can still get it there and I was pleased to hear that the Stow Lake boat house will still be selling it. I think I’ll have to find some and share it with my daughter so she can get a taste of old San Francisco.

7 Replies to “Pink Popcorn: The San Francisco Treat”

  1. Wow…and all these years I thought I was the only one who felt like you do. For awhile I Wow…and all these years I thought I was the only one who felt like you do. For awhile I thought I was nuts telling people about this magnificent pink popcorn that I use to eat at Roding Park Zoo in Fresno at age 5. I’m 62 years young today and still crave this marvolous treat from San Francisco. At one point I thought it was a Fresno product….ha ha  along with the raisens and wine we produce. I got to visit the factory where they actually make it on Potrero Ave in San Francisco thanks to who catered food to the Wrights company employees. I could smell the pink in the air and thought I was back in Fresno!  

  2. Oh my gosh! I used to beg my parents for the “pink popcorn” at Howarth Park in Santa Rosa every time we went and sometimes they would give in and buy it for me. I absolutely loved it! I have craved it over the years but have never found it since I moved to Southern California in the late 1970s. I didn’t realize it was made in San Francisco or else I would have searched for it when I’ve gone back for visits over the years. Their website is pretty sparse. Is the company still in business? If so, does anyone know where I can order some?

  3. Alas it appears they have gone out of business as their website hasn’t been updated in years and they don’t return phone calls. I did find this recipe that you could make at home, but you’d still need to add some bubblegum flavoring: Old Fashioned Pink Popcorn

  4. FYI – Wrights has not gone out of business. They have a location in Sacramento and SF. They sell the Corn Dog Batter and Funnel Cake mix. The Pink Popcorn is no longer available. I was told Mrs. Wright passed away and hadn’t shared the recipe with anyone.

  5. Hi Rene,

    Any other info on Wright’s? The Pink Popcorn was what everyone knew them for and I specifically remember their bubblegum flavoring that was used on their popcorn was their own formulation.

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