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  #1  
Old 12-24-2011, 12:14 AM
Drum God Drum God is offline
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Which is better, air popped popcorn or microwave popcorn?

That's pretty much it. I'm considering splurging the twenty bucks on an air-popper. We've been using microwaved for years, but I'm tired of the tendency for some of it to come out burned. How do you take your popcorn?
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  #2  
Old 12-24-2011, 12:33 AM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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Airpopped, it's not even a question. Stovepopped is better than microwave and airpopped is better than stovepopped. Microwave popcorn is barely popcorn and I refuse to eat it.
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  #3  
Old 12-24-2011, 12:34 AM
Snowboarder Bo Snowboarder Bo is offline
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Originally Posted by Inner Stickler View Post
Airpopped, it's not even a question. Stovepopped is better than microwave and airpopped is better than stovepopped. Microwave popcorn is barely popcorn and I refuse to eat it.
+1
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  #4  
Old 12-24-2011, 12:48 AM
MsWhatsit MsWhatsit is offline
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Really? You guys like air-popped? Are you doing something special to it? Because my mom had an air-popper when we were kids, and the popcorn that came out of it tasted like styrofoam packing peanuts.

I like stove-popped, personally, but microwave popcorn will do in an emergency.
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  #5  
Old 12-24-2011, 01:01 AM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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Airpopped popcorn has a much lighter texture than microwaved, and I don't mind eating it all by itself or with a little bit of salt. The really great thing about airpopped in my opinion is that you can melt a tablespoon or so of butter, mix in your favorite herbs and spices and make your own popcorn flavor without all the fakey butter crap that microwave popcorn has. Stovepopped is similar in that the oil from the popping means you don't even really need to melt butter to get the spices to stick but then you're eating a bunch of oil with your popcorn and I prefer the flavor of butter.

My favorite popcorn flavor is a tablespoon of melted butter mixed with about a tsp each of cumin and chile powder. Cinnamon and sugar make a good topping as well if you like sweet.

Last edited by Inner Stickler; 12-24-2011 at 01:02 AM..
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  #6  
Old 12-24-2011, 01:25 AM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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I have the same childhood memory. Air popped is very dry and tasteless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MsWhatsit View Post
Really? You guys like air-popped? Are you doing something special to it? Because my mom had an air-popper when we were kids, and the popcorn that came out of it tasted like styrofoam packing peanuts.

I like stove-popped, personally, but microwave popcorn will do in an emergency.
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  #7  
Old 12-24-2011, 01:44 AM
Snowboarder Bo Snowboarder Bo is offline
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
I have the same childhood memory. Air popped is very dry and tasteless.
Yeah, that's what oil and salt are for.
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  #8  
Old 12-24-2011, 02:23 AM
Sudden Kestrel Sudden Kestrel is offline
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I have a bowl that is specially designed to make popcorn in the microwave. I think it cost about $10 at Target. I make popcorn in it with just a little bit of oil (to help the salt stick), but you could use whatever you liked or pop it without any oil at all.

Air poppers, because they use no oil, make popcorn that is impossible to season. Packaged microwave popcorn sometimes has a chemical odor (or that overwhelming "butter" smell) that turns my stomach.
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  #9  
Old 12-24-2011, 03:04 AM
voguevixen voguevixen is offline
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Originally Posted by Drum God View Post
That's pretty much it. I'm considering splurging the twenty bucks on an air-popper. We've been using microwaved for years, but I'm tired of the tendency for some of it to come out burned. How do you take your popcorn?
Air popped is NASTY! And you don't need $20 to find it out. There are plenty of $1 air poppers at any given thrift store.

Last edited by voguevixen; 12-24-2011 at 03:04 AM.. Reason: fixed wuote
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  #10  
Old 12-24-2011, 07:27 AM
SeaDragonTattoo SeaDragonTattoo is offline
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I'm not sure from the OP whether the question is comparing air-popped to packaged microwave popcorn, or to plain paper bag microwave popcorn. If the former, yes - because at least air-popped is unadulterated. If the latter, no, I think plain paper microwave and air-popped are pretty much equivalent.

When I used an air popper, I would use cooking spray in a couple short bursts to give it a really light coating for the salt to stick. Or olive oil spray and sprinkled Parmesan. Now I use a whirly-pop and won't use anything else. Pre-packaged microwave popcorn is vile and I won't touch the stuff since I switched to air- and then stovetop-popped about 5 years ago.
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  #11  
Old 12-24-2011, 08:19 AM
salinqmind salinqmind is offline
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Air popped popcorn is good for feeding birds and using as packing material when shipping packages. Melting a stick of butter over it helps some but that makes it no better for you than the chemical-ly flavored microwave popcorn. And yes, I haunt thrift stores and see discarded air poppers in every one of them. The grocery stores sell bags of pre-popped corn, plain or yellow or white cheddar flavor which are kind of tasty.
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  #12  
Old 12-24-2011, 08:29 AM
johnpost johnpost is offline
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air popped to me tastes the best, no burnt flavor. i like it dry. easily flavored or oiled using an oil sprayer for whatever degree you like.
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  #13  
Old 12-24-2011, 11:39 AM
Drum God Drum God is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaDragonTattoo View Post
I'm not sure from the OP whether the question is comparing air-popped to packaged microwave popcorn, or to plain paper bag microwave popcorn. If the former, yes - because at least air-popped is unadulterated. If the latter, no, I think plain paper microwave and air-popped are pretty much equivalent.

When I used an air popper, I would use cooking spray in a couple short bursts to give it a really light coating for the salt to stick. Or olive oil spray and sprinkled Parmesan. Now I use a whirly-pop and won't use anything else. Pre-packaged microwave popcorn is vile and I won't touch the stuff since I switched to air- and then stovetop-popped about 5 years ago.
I am not familiar with plain paper popping in the microwave. How does one do this? Doesn't the popcorn require that heating pad that comes with prepackaged microwave popcorn? In the OP, I was asking about air popped vs pre-packaged microwave popcorn. It sounds like air popped may not be for me. I like tasty, flavorful popcorn.
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  #14  
Old 12-24-2011, 12:03 PM
Snowboarder Bo Snowboarder Bo is offline
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Originally Posted by SeaDragonTattoo View Post
When I used an air popper, I would use cooking spray in a couple short bursts to give it a really light coating for the salt to stick.
Exactly. Spray-on canola oil, like in the non-stick cooking sprays, comes in "butter flavor", has almost no calories, and is enough to make salt, cheese or (my favorite) Molly McButter stick to the popcorn just fine.

Those of you complaining that popcorn without any oil or salt tastes bad leave me shaking my head and asking "why the fuck don't they just tart it up like any other fucking popcorn is tarted up?"

I mean, do you get unsalted popcorn, ever? No, no one eats unsalted popcorn. So why is it that when y'all have used an air popper, you couldn't figure out how to do something as simple as getting the salt to stick to the popcorn?

Did it honestly never occur to any of you to even try?
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  #15  
Old 12-24-2011, 01:44 PM
SeaDragonTattoo SeaDragonTattoo is offline
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Here's a New York Times (very short!) article on the subject, with directions.

There is nothing special about pre-packaged microwave popcorn bags, aside from the extra salt and the shelf-stabilized hydrogenated oil, that is. Ever take a micro bag apart? There's nothing extra in there. The "pad" you feel is just - congealed oil - which melts with heat.

Once you start making your own and are no longer acclimated to the taste of the pre-packaged stuff, if you taste it again, you will not like it any more. I don't know anyone who does, once they start making their own, whether it's air-popped, micro-popped, or stove-popped.
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  #16  
Old 12-24-2011, 02:35 PM
papergirl papergirl is offline
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Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
Those of you complaining that popcorn without any oil or salt tastes bad leave me shaking my head and asking "why the fuck don't they just tart it up like any other fucking popcorn is tarted up?"

I mean, do you get unsalted popcorn, ever? No, no one eats unsalted popcorn. So why is it that when y'all have used an air popper, you couldn't figure out how to do something as simple as getting the salt to stick to the popcorn?

Did it honestly never occur to any of you to even try?
Wow. Such vehemence! I've sprayed and salted like a madwoman, and I still find airpopped bland. Stovetop works for me though.
If you are used to the level of flavor in prepackaged microwave popcorn, you're probably used to a LOT of buttery oily salty flavor. I can't imagine that you can approximate the flavor of, say, Theater Extra Butter Mightypop with a spray can of canola and a shaker of Molly McButter. I've tried to come close to the White Cheddar Smartpop using similar methods, and haven't had any luck.
You can make some tasty popcorn using several methods, including the Spray and Sprinkle style, but it's still going to taste less flavorful than the microwave kind. (Not that this is a bad thing, but it's different and you have to get used to it.)
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  #17  
Old 12-24-2011, 03:15 PM
salinqmind salinqmind is offline
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Alton Brown had a recipe ("Plain Brown Popper"): 1/4 C. popcorn shaken with 2 tsp. olive oil and 1/4 tsp. of fine salt in a brown lunch bag. Fold over the top (about half an inch) and fasten with two staples. Put in the microwave and let pop 2-3 minutes or until there are 5 seconds between pops.

Last edited by salinqmind; 12-24-2011 at 03:15 PM..
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  #18  
Old 12-24-2011, 03:21 PM
Snowboarder Bo Snowboarder Bo is offline
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Originally Posted by salinqmind View Post
Alton Brown had a recipe ("Plain Brown Popper"): 1/4 C. popcorn shaken with 2 tsp. olive oil and 1/4 tsp. of fine salt in a brown lunch bag. Fold over the top (about half an inch) and fasten with two staples. Put in the microwave and let pop 2-3 minutes or until there are 5 seconds between pops.
staples in the microwave?
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  #19  
Old 12-24-2011, 04:18 PM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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I use the bowl that goes in the microwave. Any microwave-safe bowl works. The only thing unique about it is the lid has air vents in it. The popcorn is slightly damp when it comes out and popcorn salt sticks to it, and it dries immediately so it's not soggy. You can add any amount of oil or butter or none at all.
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  #20  
Old 12-24-2011, 04:21 PM
Motorgirl Motorgirl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaDragonTattoo View Post
Once you start making your own and are no longer acclimated to the taste of the pre-packaged stuff, if you taste it again, you will not like it any more. I don't know anyone who does, once they start making their own, whether it's air-popped, micro-popped, or stove-popped.
Sadly, I fell victim to this. My dad gave us an air popper several years ago and we started making popcorn every weekend. A little butter, a little salt, very easy and convenient. Then about a year ago I decided to make a concerted effort to lose some weight. One of the things that worked well for me last time was having an afternoon snack of microwave popcorn at work. Only now I don't like the way it tastes. Curses!
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  #21  
Old 12-24-2011, 04:36 PM
MsWhatsit MsWhatsit is offline
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Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
staples in the microwave?
Strangely, yes. I was dubious myself, but tried it after a friend assured me repeatedly that it would be fine (with my finger paused over the Cancel button) and there was no sparking or anything. I am not a microwave expert but I guess the metal is the wrong type or not enough metal or... I don't know why it works, actually, but it does.
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  #22  
Old 12-24-2011, 04:53 PM
salinqmind salinqmind is offline
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A. Brown addressed the question of staples in the bag - there are only two, and they're very small. There should be no problem with sparking with only two tiny staples. The more important thing is opening the bag - just cut off the bag right under the fold, and throw away the strip containing the staples before dumping out the popcorn. Don't want bits of wire falling in.
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  #23  
Old 12-24-2011, 07:24 PM
obfusciatrist obfusciatrist is offline
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My wife does the brown bag thing and the result tastes fine to me and much better than pre-packaged microwave popcorn. Grew up on air popped via a popper that had a tray for butter on top that melted and dripped down as it popped. Love it, but haven't had it that way since I was 12 or so.

And the problem with an air popper is that is a lot of space for a specialty item. So either you plenty to spare or you should be planning to eat an awful lot of popcorn.

Last edited by obfusciatrist; 12-24-2011 at 07:25 PM..
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  #24  
Old 12-25-2011, 07:41 AM
deadindays deadindays is offline
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Stove-popped. Then butter, salt and a little bit of MSG (because I'm evil).
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  #25  
Old 12-25-2011, 07:55 AM
Hal Briston Hal Briston is offline
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Those who are complaining about the taste of hot-air popped popcorn (even after dressing it up) are missing a key factor -- the popcorn.

You can't buy a massive bag of Redi-Pop for 99 cents and expect it to taste good when popped. Spend the five bucks on a canister of Redenbacher's!
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  #26  
Old 12-28-2011, 02:43 PM
noonespecial noonespecial is offline
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My favorite popcorn is that which I make with my Stir-Crazy oil popper. It is wonderful and always turns out great.

But my air popper is second on the list, followed by microwave popcorn last.
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  #27  
Old 12-28-2011, 07:14 PM
TBG TBG is offline
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Definitely oil popped in a popcorn popper. Stir Crazy, like noonespecial mentions makes a good corn.

Have to disagree about air popper being second. Yuck. Might as well eat styrofoam packing peanuts.

Microwave, I used to like, but ever since that one guy who ate like 50 bags a day got lung cancer or something, I think they've reformulated the butter like substance they use, and just the smell makes me want to barf for many brands now.
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  #28  
Old 12-28-2011, 10:15 PM
rowrrbazzle rowrrbazzle is offline
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If you balk at buying a single-purpose appliance, some air popper models can be used for roasting your own coffee beans. http://www.sweetmarias.com/airpop/airpopdesign.php
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  #29  
Old 12-29-2011, 06:53 AM
Face Intentionally Left Blank Face Intentionally Left Blank is offline
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
I have the same childhood memory. Air popped is very dry and tasteless.
Yeah, I remember getting excited as a child when we got an air-popper, Yay popcorn!", then it got put away after like 2 uses, never to be seen again. Styrofoam.
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  #30  
Old 12-29-2011, 08:00 AM
BMalion BMalion is offline
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Originally Posted by Inner Stickler View Post
Airpopped, it's not even a question. Stovepopped is better than microwave and airpopped is better than stovepopped. Microwave popcorn is barely popcorn and I refuse to eat it.
+2


I love airpopped. Stovetop is marginally tastier in some cases but the clean-up takes away the advantage. I have been using the same air popper my sister got me for my 16th birthday (35 years ago today!) and I sill use it.
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  #31  
Old 12-29-2011, 08:33 AM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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Stove-popped with olive oil in one of those Whirly-Pop pans, or using the Alton Brown plain brown bag method as a fallback.
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  #32  
Old 12-29-2011, 12:04 PM
Turble Turble is offline
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Originally Posted by Hal Briston View Post
Those who are complaining about the taste of hot-air popped popcorn (even after dressing it up) are missing a key factor -- the popcorn.

You can't buy a massive bag of Redi-Pop for 99 cents and expect it to taste good when popped. Spend the five bucks on a canister of Redenbacher's!
I'd say Orville Redenbacher is the one who is responsible for removing the flavor from popcorn. Yeah, the stuff he developed grows around a zillion pounds per acre and almost all the kernels pop, but it has next to no actual flavor.

Check out some heirloom popcorn to find out what the stuff is actually supposed to taste like. I buy it from a local Amish farm stand but it is easy to find on the net if you don't have one of those nearby.
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  #33  
Old 12-29-2011, 03:09 PM
Motorgirl Motorgirl is offline
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Originally Posted by Turble View Post
Check out some heirloom popcorn to find out what the stuff is actually supposed to taste like. I buy it from a local Amish farm stand but it is easy to find on the net if you don't have one of those nearby.
We eat a lot of popcorn. Can you point us in the right direction for a good brand or online retailer?
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  #34  
Old 12-29-2011, 03:29 PM
Jaledin Jaledin is offline
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Staples in the microwave work (although, pace A Brown, only small staples have worked for me, and I think I've lost my little stapler which discharges the tiny staples). They are sharp, but on the plus side, they make excellent little tiny toothpicks.

When I make popcorn I make it in a four or five quart pot on the stove, and drown it in butter -- it works fine. To me popcorn is just a vehicle for eating butter. I've had the microwaved, and usually "need" to augment it with more butter.
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  #35  
Old 12-29-2011, 03:35 PM
Turble Turble is offline
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Sorry, Motorgirl. I buy locally so can't really tell you about online vendors. A quick search for "heirloom popcorn" brings up a lot of hits. The stuff is only a couple dollars a pound, so you're not really risking much. The difference in flavor is big.
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  #36  
Old 12-29-2011, 04:20 PM
Max Torque Max Torque is offline
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Air-popped works just fine for me. Microwaves are for melting butter.

Oil-popped is fine too, but I just don't want to do the clean-up afterward. And an air-popper and an oil-popper take up about the same amount of space, so that's a non-issue. Air is fast, too; you can make batch after batch without pausing to clean. Great when you have a bunch of kids over.

If you like your popcorn unbuttered but salted, just get some popcorn salt. The tiny grains will stick in the nooks and crannies of air-popped kernels better than table salt.

On the side issue of staples: take a peek inside your microwaves, people. What are the walls made of? heh. A couple of tiny staples are nothing compared to that.
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  #37  
Old 12-29-2011, 04:32 PM
Jaledin Jaledin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Torque View Post
On the side issue of staples: take a peek inside your microwaves, people. What are the walls made of? heh. A couple of tiny staples are nothing compared to that.
I call shenanigans. Have you ever put a fork in a microwave? Or something like that? My ex-FIL bought me and "mine" a microwave when he came to visit years ago, and now I have one that came with my apartment. You don't fuck around with those things, is my conclusion.

Although a gallium arsenide wafer, fresh from the fab, leafed with aluminum, would make an interesting experiment.

Yeah, yeah, it has to do with the wavelength and so forth. Indulge me! I have seen sparks fly (pace ZZ Top) from regular staples, though.

ETA to above. I thought that Orville cat pretty much was the king of getting good strains of corn for popping. I wouldn't know from taste, but (more reasonable dopers) is the situation really that dire?

Last edited by Jaledin; 12-29-2011 at 04:35 PM..
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  #38  
Old 12-29-2011, 04:40 PM
Sandra Battye Sandra Battye is offline
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Originally Posted by Motorgirl View Post
We eat a lot of popcorn. Can you point us in the right direction for a good brand or online retailer?
I've bought from amishcountrypopcorn.com several times. (I like the purple and blue varieties the best.) They have a "fill the box" offer that saves money on shipping and lets you try various types.
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  #39  
Old 12-29-2011, 04:40 PM
Labrador Deceiver Labrador Deceiver is offline
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Originally Posted by Jaledin View Post
I call shenanigans. Have you ever put a fork in a microwave? Or something like that?
Here's a tip: don't close your popcorn bag with a fork.


Quote:
ETA to above. I thought that Orville cat pretty much was the king of getting good strains of corn for popping. I wouldn't know from taste, but (more reasonable dopers) is the situation really that dire?
Not at all.
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  #40  
Old 12-29-2011, 05:05 PM
Jaledin Jaledin is offline
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Lab Do you mean that the Orville situ is not that dire? Ever since I saw *Twin Peaks* I know what good corn tastes like, but I'm still not sure Orville isn't it. Not a connoisseur, believe it or not.

(And, no, you're right. A fork is the best way of closing a paper sack. My bad.)
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  #41  
Old 12-29-2011, 05:45 PM
Labrador Deceiver Labrador Deceiver is offline
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Originally Posted by Jaledin View Post
Lab Do you mean that the Orville situ is not that dire? Ever since I saw *Twin Peaks* I know what good corn tastes like, but I'm still not sure Orville isn't it. Not a connoisseur, believe it or not.

(And, no, you're right. A fork is the best way of closing a paper sack. My bad.)
I have a large heirloom garden in the back yard that usually includes a variety of popcorn. Some of it is better than others, but OR's holds up fine, overall.
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  #42  
Old 12-29-2011, 06:03 PM
SeaDragonTattoo SeaDragonTattoo is offline
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I use a Whirly-Pop, and have never washed it. Wipe it out with a paper towel, done. I don't know what all the complaining about cleanup is about.

As far as buying popcorn that's not "Orville's," if you've got a Whole Foods or another locally-focused store nearby, I'd start there. Both the tiny organic store that's next door to me and Whole Foods carry nice organic stuff in bulk, that's something like $1.25 a pound. Since I eat a lot of popcorn, and it's kinda hard to wash, I decided to go organic (potatoes, too).
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  #43  
Old 12-30-2011, 05:25 PM
Turble Turble is offline
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Regarding staples and forks in the microwave:

A typical microwave oven operates at 2.45GHz. A bit of mathematical manipulation on the relationship of frequency to wavelength (insert funny greek letters here) leads to the conclusion that a wave in a microwave oven is about 122 millimeters or 4.8 inches long.

That makes a staple more or less invisible to / unaffected by the wave. A fork, however, is the right size to get very hot, likely hot enough to start the paper on fire.
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  #44  
Old 12-30-2011, 07:56 PM
Hal Briston Hal Briston is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sandra Battye View Post
I've bought from amishcountrypopcorn.com several times. (I like the purple and blue varieties the best.) They have a "fill the box" offer that saves money on shipping and lets you try various types.
From the "well, crap..." file:

I just got back yesterday from visiting my girlfriend's family. In Indiana. 700 miles from here. And twenty minutes from this Amish Country Popcorn place.
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