Popcorn is fun! Right? Who doesn’t love waiting for the first kernel to pop and then a few seconds later listening to all those little kernels go on a frenzied popping spree.
I think most of us know that popcorn is a healthy, low-calorie snack. Depending on how you prepare it! If you load up popcorn with high calorie toppers, then it’s not so healthy anymore.
One thing I like about popcorn is the high fiber content, and that keeps me feeling full for a longer time than other snacks. Also the low calorie thing. Popcorn is a snack that can help out during weight loss or maintenance. Three cups of plain hot air popped popcorn is about 93 calories.
The smell of popcorn always draws me in. It’s like walking past a Cinnabon in the mall. If I can actually walk past without being tempted, that is! Sheer torture! I’ll just walk slowly. How about you? Can you keep walking? I refer to it as saving money and saving calories.
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Who else loves popcorn?
Popcorn is a lifelong treat for most of us.
I remember we always had a bag of popcorn kernels in the house. My mother used a skillet with a lid to make popcorn. She was really particular how she made it. That could be her Scottish upbringing, or maybe just her love of cooking. Everything had to be just so. A little aside here. I shared my mother’s love of cooking and compiled her recipes into a cookbook that also features how her life (and ours) changed when Alzheimer’s Disease took over.
My mother’s popcorn method was to heat oil in the skillet and toss in one kernel of popcorn. Maybe two or three kernels, just in case the first one was a dud. Once the first kernel popped, alerting her the oil and skillet were hot enough, she’d dump in the rest of the popcorn kernels.
Occasionally we got Jiffy Pop Popcorn and that was a fun treat. I think Jiffy Pop was more my father’s thing. It came in it’s own little skillet that already had popcorn and oil inside. Turn on the stove top, pull the paper label off the lid, and as the popcorn popped, the tin foil grew into a bubble. Once it was done popping, slit the foil, and enjoy. That was a real treat, but it was obviously a lot cheaper to buy a bag of popcorn and get several batches rather than the one-time thing with the Jiffy Pop.
That might have been why my mother didn’t like the Jiffy Pop popcorn. The old frugal Scottish thing was going on here!
Hot air popcorn poppers
Eventually we got a hot air popcorn machine. Here’s the really crazy thing. I have had this hot air popcorn machine for so long I don’t remember when I got it.
It might have been my parent’s machine that was handed down to me or maybe I bought it 30 years ago. It’s obviously still going strong for decades. It’s a Sunbeam hot air popcorn machine and it’s kind of cute with the wagon on the side. Just try to find one of them these days! It takes about half a cup of popcorn kernels and turns them into a bowl of popcorn in about 5 minutes. It has a metal container that sits on the top and that’s where to put butter or margarine and it melts from the heat generated by the machine while popping the popcorn. I don’t find it works all that well. The popcorn has finished popping and I still have a glob of butter that didn’t melt. A couple of tablespoons into the microwave for 25 seconds does it for me!
Best I could find if you’re looking for a hot air popcorn machine is Amazon’s Choice, a Hamilton Beach model.
I also like the one that looks like an old time popcorn machine. I used to see vendors set up at the beach selling hot buttered popcorn in the full size version. Bit of nostalgia for me.
These hot air popcorn machines started hitting the stores in the 1970’s when people were looking at healthier eating choices. The machines have hot air circulating in the chamber and no oil is used to pop the popcorn.
Back in the 1970’s microwave ovens started to become a thing, and it wasn’t too long before microwave popcorn hit the grocery shelves. Microwave popcorn is a paper sack with oil and popcorn inside and cooks in the microwave oven for 2 to 4 minutes. You have to stand by the microwave and pay attention. Once that popping slows, and you don’t hear anything pop after a couple of seconds, turn it off or disaster awaits.
Microwave popcorn is notorious for burning. There’s nothing sadder than smelling burnt popcorn and having to toss out the whole bag. Oh sure, maybe a lot of the popcorn didn’t burn, but they’ll still taste like they’re burnt.
I’ve burnt a few bags of microwave popcorn and that’s why I returned to the hot air machine method. Well, that, and the fact that I’m not too crazy over the ingredients inside the bag with the popcorn.
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t burnt microwave popcorn. Come on, fess up. You know you’ve done it too!
The problem with burning microwave popcorn is then the whole house stinks of burnt popcorn for hours! Opening doors and windows to air the place out doesn’t help.
Let’s not forget about workplaces with microwave ovens. There will always be at least one joker who brings in a bag of microwave popcorn to make at work. Or buys a bag from the vending machine. Same problem. The microwave popcorn burns and the whole office stinks. Not the way to go if you’re trying to win a popularity contest at work!
The last house I owned had a basement suite that I rented out. My tenant loved making microwave popcorn but wasn’t so good at keeping an eye on it. So again, our house would stink like burnt popcorn through no fault of ours.
Microwave popcorn bowls
Eventually someone got the bright idea to invent a bowl that can go in the microwave to pop popcorn. The user puts popcorn kernels, oil, and seasonings into the bowl. Snap on the lid, and into the microwave it goes.
I’m pretty sure I had one of microwave popcorn bowls. I might even still have it. My current kitchen is too small for me to unpack all my kitchen gadgets.
Instant Pot popcorn
Supposedly people can make popcorn in their Instant Pot. I’ve made two attempts with dismal results. Only a handful of kernels popped.
Not so appetizing, hunh?
Check out my post on the Instant Pot popcorn fail.
When we went to the movies, getting popcorn would be a big treat.
Who can go to the movies and resist buying popcorn?
Well, actually, I can.
Oh sure, I’ll buy popcorn every now and then when I’m at the theater. That’s all part of the experience. Mostly it depends on whether I’m hungry!
However, due to keeping my weight in check, I don’t tend to buy any snacks when I go to the movies.
Often, I’ve just finished a meal before going to the movie, so I’m not hungry for popcorn anyway.
Check out my post When Will this Movie End? My one and only date with El Cheapo who wouldn’t buy popcorn at the movie because it was too expensive.
Generally, I think most of us would agree that movie popcorn is too expensive, but if you’re hungry, suck it up and buy a bag of popcorn. It’s all part of the movie experience.
Pink Elephant Popcorn
Growing up in Cloverdale meant going to Saturday afternoon matinees at the Clova Theatre. Usually these were Disney movies or featured the Flintstones or Yogi Bear.
One Saturday afternoon the Clova was giving out free boxes of Lucky Elephant popcorn. I remember the boxes had a picture of an elephant on them and inside was pink popcorn.
As kids tend to do, I think more pink popcorn was thrown at each other inside the theatre than actually eaten that day!
I don’t even remember what it tasted like. Just a pink dyed sugar glaze. If you’re curious, here’s a recipe from someone trying to recreate their youth.
At the end of May I won two passes for an advance screening of the story of Elton John’s life, Rocketman. It was one of those theaters with reclining seats. Yow! Fun! My prize also included two bags of medium popcorn and two pops, one for each of us.
All I have to say is if that was the medium sized popcorn, I’d hate to see what the large size looks like! The bag of popcorn was enormous! Over a foot high, and close to that in circumference too, that is if the bag was actually round instead of rectangular. If you were going to the movies with someone, or maybe five friends, it was an excellent size for sharing. It was so big that the clerk put some popcorn in, drenched it with melted butter, and repeated a couple more times. And the bag was overflowing with popcorn.
Seriously there was popcorn all over the floor, dropped from other patrons. And then, oops, from me too!
My friend who already had her bag of popcorn reached over and grabbed a big handful from the top of my overflowing bag and popcorn landed all over the floor. And then she stopped at the counter where you can squirt more oil on your popcorn. Oh no!
OK, let’s give her a break. She hadn’t eaten lunch or dinner and managed to polish off her whole bag of popcorn. I made a good attempt and ate nearly half my bag. I offered the rest of my popcorn to her, but she declined. Guess she was full by then – no kidding! She also declined to take the rest of my bag home with her, but she gallantly stuffed it into the garbage bin for me.
The first popcorn shop I remember seeing is Kernels. They were set up in a mall in Vancouver, near where I used to work for Air Canada Vacations back in 1989. In December they had a bag called Christmas Cheer and it was green and red colored popcorn. Other than being sugar coated, I don’t recall that there was any specific flavor attached to them.
They also sold another flavor that I bought, though I don’t recall the name. Double something. It had two flavors of popcorn: caramel and chocolate. I haven’t seen that flavor since the early 90s. Ever the optimist, I’ll always swing past Kernels when I spot one of their mall locations and check out the bins, but my double flavor is never there. In fact, there’s never any chocolate flavored popcorn there. These days everyone seems to prefer savory flavors for popcorn.
Don’t let the name fool you. This is not a cranberry specialty shop. They sell all kinds of candies here, including a huge selection of gourmet popcorn. My absolute favorite is the heirloom Oregon mint drizzled with dark chocolate!
Pimp your popcorn
If you’re looking to jazz up your popcorn, check out the recipes on these articles:
The recipe below in the quick Youtube video I loosely followed. I had part of a Toblerone fruit and nut bar in my freezer for close to two years, and I melted that for this recipe. I added coconut, craisins, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Mixed it into a bowl and let it set in the fridge. Then I broke it into smaller pieces and stored the popcorn treat in a Ziploc bag. Yummy!
I was planning to make more, thinking I can now finally use that huge Dairy Milk chocolate bar I got in a Secret Santa gift exchange last Christmas. Seeing as how I’m watching my weight and lowering my blood sugar, I kept it in the freezer so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat it.
Unfortunately the Dairy Milk chocolate bar was one of the items stolen by the creepy food thief.
Thanks for stopping by to read about my popcorn memories! Are you a popcorn person? How do you like your popcorn? Do you pop it yourself or buy it ready to eat?