Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Place two tablespoons of sugar into six separate small bowls or one bowl for each color you use.
Dye each bowl a different color, placing two dollops of gel food coloring into each bowl.
Use a fork to mix and stir the color until it’s fully incorporated as colored sugar. This can take about 3-5 minutes to make sure the gel coloring is fully mixed.
Add two teaspoons of vegetable oil and a few popcorn kernels (They are the testers) in a large skillet or 3-quart deep pan. Heat the oil and popcorn over medium-high heat. This lets you know when the pan is ready.
Once the tester kernels pop and the pan is hot, reduce pan heat to medium and add two tablespoons of popcorn kernels and one bowl of colored sugar.
Cover with lid and cook, leaving the lid cracked (away from you) just a bit so some steam can escape. Continue to shake the skillet or pan so the sugar doesn’t burn. This is a constant shake throughout the cooking of each color. If the pan is left to sit on the stove alone, the sugar could caramelize and burn.
Once the popcorn kernel pops are more than 1-2 seconds apart, which tells you that most kernels are done, remove sugared popcorn from heat to prevent burning.
Keep the lid on until all popping stops, or a stray may surprise you! Once the popcorn is completly done popping, remove the lid (facing away from your face or body) and pour colored popcorn onto a baking sheet.
Immediately sprinkle popcorn with salt.
Let the popcorn cool completely.
Repeat with remaining colors.
Once all popcorn is cool, break apart any large pieces of Kettle corn and serve.
Store leftovers in an airtight container.
I always rinse out the lid and skillet after each color. The lid especially had hardened color sugar splatter on it.
Do not overuse food dye. A little goes a long way, and too much can change the flavor of the popcorn itself.
Burned sugar happens! There will be times you burn kernels and burn sugar; it's, unfortunately, a part of the process of figuring out your pan and heat. Do not be tempted to make the kettle corn done faster by turning the heat way up. Medium heat is the perfect temperature.
Do not use too small of a pan! You need room to pop the popcorn and shake the colored sugar. Use a considerable skillet or at least a 3-quart size pot (the kind you would cook pasta in).
The food dye does mix in but may take a few minutes. Use a separate fork for each color and keep mixing until all incorporated. This may take 3-5 minutes to get the dye lumps to adhear to the sugar.
Do not serve unpopped kernels by accident. They do not taste great and can also present a choking hazard or a breaking a tooth hazard.