To mold popcorn into balls or other shapes, coat freshly popped, unsalted corn with a sugar glaze. For 3 quarts of popcorn (a dozen 3-inch balls), mix 2 cups granulated sugar, 1 cup light corn syrup, 1 cup water, and ½ cup butter stick) in a heavy saucepan; cook over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Cook, without stirring, to the hard-ball stage or 260°F. Add food coloring to the cooked glaze if desired.
For a darker glaze, combine 3/4 cup molasses, 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook as above to the soft-crack stage (280°F).
Pour the syrup over the popcorn, mixed with nuts or raisins, if desired, and blend thoroughly. When the popcorn is cool enough to handle, press it into shape with lightly buttered fingers. Place on wax per to cool.