I have fond childhood memories associated with popcorn. A longstanding Sunday night tradition at my house growing up was to watch The Wonderful World of Disney, and when mom was in a good mood she would sometimes even make popcorn. The popcorn was prepared old school and would simply put a little oil in the bottom of a kettle and shake, but later on we got one of those space helmet looking poppers. The ‘space helmets’ were cool from the standpoint that you could watch the popcorn as it popped, but for some reason the end product didn’t seem to be quite as satisfying (less oil?). After that, my parents graduated to one of those air poppers, and again, for some reason I found the flavor or texture somehow lacking. There was an interval where mom bought a type of popcorn called, I think, ‘Merry Poppins’ which one didn’t top with butter and salt, but rather, used the enclosed packet of butter/salt seasoning powder. I think I liked this type of popcorn least of all…save microwave popcorn, which can scarcely be considered popcorn at all in my book.
For my own kitchen I purchased a hand crank stove top popper, and am quite pleased with the results it provides. The only popcorn that’s better is maybe movie theater popcorn. I’m not sure why theater popcorn usually tastes better than homemade, but it typically does. Anyone have insight into why that might be?
As to the popcorn itself, I used to think there wasn’t much difference between brands but have come to find otherwise. Cheap store brand popcorn may produce adequately good tasting kernels, but there are differences to be found between cheapo brands and premium types. We’re fortunate to live not far from Amish country and have access to some of the best northern Indiana popcorn to be found - my favorite are the ‘low hull’ varieties, but in terms of grocery store brands, I find Orville Redenbacher to offer the most consistency. Properly prepared one seldom ends up with more than a dozen un-popped kernels.
What are your preferred methods of preparing popcorn? What are your favorite toppings? Favorite brands?