Saturday, July 29, 2023

Saturday Night Popcorn

 When I was a kid, treats and snacks were limited, but I could usually talk my mom into making popcorn at least once a month, usually on a Saturday night.  It was made on the stovetop in a big cooking pot with regular vegetable oil and the cheapest popcorn kernels we could buy.  It was seasoned with table salt and served in a large tin cake pan.  Then I'd settle down in front of our RCA console color TV for a double-header of  "Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" or maybe the CBS Saturday Night Movie.

Sometimes my mom would spring for a more expensive popcorn brand like Jolly Time that came with it's own packet of yellow-colored seasoning. I loved that powdery salt. I told myself it tasted like butter (it didn't).

In my teen years, my desire for popcorn as a weekly snack got to the point that my mom finally bought a popcorn popper.  It was a simple Mirro brand model; just an electric pot with a lid similar to this one, although ours had a clear plastic lid (this, by the way, was not my find).

I once scalded the inside of my nostril sniffing the popcorn immediately after lifting the lid (I told you, I really loved popcorn); lesson learned.

It made adequate popcorn, but I sometimes burned the bottom. There is no worse smell than burnt popcorn.  I longed for one of these (this IS my find):

The West Bend Stir Crazy corn popper.  This was state of the art popcorn making.  It had the stirring rod on the bottom that kept the popcorn from burning, a clear dome where you could watch the popcorn pop and even a slotted top where you could let butter melt and drip on the popcorn (more on that later).

I've had several of these models over the years, including this one I wrote about.  This popcorn popper came from an extremely packed and dirty basement of an estate sale.  It was $3.50.  I took the popper to an outlet and tested and found the stirring rod was stuck.  It was covered in years of old oil.  I removed the stirrer, but the motor was also stuck.  Being an estate sale, it was easy enough to track down a pair of pliers, and after giving it a few encouraging twists, the motor broke free and began turning.

I brought it home and first soaked the motor spindle in Dawn dish soap.  After about an hour, I brought it inside and gave it a serious deep cleaning.  It came out pretty good.

These days, I use Orville Redenbacher's Butter Flavored popcorn oil and the same brand popcorn.

It really does blow the lid right off:

I love the sound of popping popcorn.

I didn't use the butter feature because I've found that makes the popcorn hard.  I prefer to melt butter separately and apply after popping along with some of Flavacol seasoning salt.

It's intended that the machine be inverted and the popcorn served in the lid (as shown below), however the domes of these become brittle over the years and are easily cracked so I prefer to serve in a large metal bowl.

One year for Christmas I asked for an air popper. The idea of being able to make popcorn in my room anytime I wanted it was very enticing.  However, I soon found the reason it's called an air popper is because it tastes like you're eating air.

When microwave popcorn hit the market, it seemed like the perfect solution: quick popcorn with a fraction of the mess.  However, after its initial novelty, I soon returned to old-fashioned popped.

How about you?  What's your preferred popping method?  And if you don't like popcorn, we can't be friends.


  1. We made ours on the stove, too. Sunday night was more our movie night with Wide World of Disney or whatever it was called at the time. Saturdays, Mom & Dad went out and left us with the baby sitter to watch those silly ABC shows. ... It's really kind of crazy to think how easily ubiquitous popcorn is nowadays, and what a delicacy it was back then.

    1. The microwave really did cheapen the thrill of eating popcorn.

  2. I once scolded the inside of my nostril...
    Glad I'm not the only one who reprimands their body parts. *scalded*

    1. Ha! That's what you think. I really did yell at it. Thanks for the catch.

  3. as you know, i'm a popcorn fan too. i make it several times a week, in small batches, as an afternoon snack. (fiber is important!) Stovetop, veg oil, and Jolly Time works just fine for me. Sometimes butter and sea salt on top, sometimes other things (currently a fan of curry, but it's not for everyone). i remember that your tradition when we were in high school was the cake pan. "Now that's a fine pan o' corn" we'd say, which was the style at the time...

    1. That and wearing an onion on our belt. I knew you'd remember.

    2. and then there was that awful time when we didn't HAVE any popcorn, on account of The Kaiser!!

    3. If only he hadn't stolen our word for "twenty".


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