Pop Pop Pop

My wife has been nagging me to do a taste-test of microwave popcorn versus conventionally popped popcorn. I have a sneaking suspicion that her true motivation is to participate in the test. She likes popcorn so much that I think she goes to movies just to eat the popcorn. I find movie-house popcorn to be disgusting. Of course, I eat it, too — there isn’t anything else to eat, and I can’t sit for two hours without eating something.

I need more than one subject, so I am going to enlist our thirteen-year-old and a few of her friends. A lousy movie and several bowls of popcorn? What could be better? The problem is the brand of corn and the oil I will
use for the conventional popping. I have an old friend who claims that bacon grease is the Rolls Royce of popping fat. And I have a small quantity of rendered duck fat that is very tempting. But I think I will stick to corn oil or canola oil. Something neutral, so the test is fair. Any suggestions for the brand of popcorn? Orville Redenbacher makes both, and I am sure that a few of the big players do, too. But what about quality? Does anyone have an opinion?

4 Replies to “Pop Pop Pop”

  1. Have you conducted the test yet? I find it hard to believe that anyone who likes popcorn would not be able to tell the difference between microwave and stove-top in a blind tasting. The disgusting artificial butter in the micro- is a dead giveaway. And, yes, bacon grease (cut it in half with regular corn oil) is the Rolls Royce. And of course, it must be melted butter, not margarine, and the melted butter must be poured onto the flat edge of a knife and “splattered” onto the popped corn, not poured directly onto the corn. Learned that trick from Paul Newman, who sells very good (but expensive) kernels.

  2. The testing awaits a rainy weekend so that I can corral the test subjects without too much of a struggle. And while I agree that no one with any functioning taste buds will have trouble differentiating, the question is of preference. As for the bacon grease? I may throw in a ringer of duck fat, just to confound every one’s expectations. Thanks for the tip about the appropriate butter splatter technique. But “remember: short, controlled bursts.”

  3. I see. Well then, anyone in your experiment who actually prefers the microwave should be beaten with your aforementioned abalone mallet. An interesting variable that you might wish to control: take the popped microwave popcorn and put real salt and melted butter on it. Guess what? It still doesn’t work. I’ve tried it, even in a “dry heat”. There is just something off and unpleasant about the texture of the microwave stuff.

  4. The current state of popcorn affairs is a sad one. I’ll bet that the majority of Americans have never tasted real popcorn. And let’s face it, making popcorn is not a difficult task. Yes, it is marginally more difficult than tossing a bag into a microwave, but it is very easy.

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