Popcorn Memories

Today’s post comes from Ben.

I was thinking about popcorn tonight. Actually I wanted popcorn tonight… but I didn’t want to go to the trouble of making it; I wanted a bag of cold popcorn out of the freezer. But that meant making some and freezing it and that seemed like a long wait and a lot of trouble.

And that’s how come I’m thinking about popcorn.

I first learned to make popcorn in a large metal pot on the stovetop. Add some oil, throw in a few kernels, wait until they pop, then add more, add the lid and shake it across the stove. I can hear that sound of the heavy metal pot scrapping across the electric stove elements.

I don’t remember what we served it in.

My grandfather grew popcorn one year. He was quite the gardener. I remember it had to dry and we had to husk it. No idea how it tasted…

I think at some point we had one of those concave, yellow plastic cover poppers; I think you were supposed to serve it in the lid when it was done. And you added butter to the top – it was supposed to drip on to the popcorn before you flipped it over, right? I don’t remember mom ever doing that.

And then there was the black pan w/ the handle on the top in order to stir the popcorn. That one didn’t last long; it probably didn’t work that well.

Then we got air poppers… they worked and were fun. But mom still wouldn’t let me put butter in the little dish on the top. And the popcorn had a tendency to fly out all over…

I remember going to a cabin with my sister and her in-laws when I was about 10. They had ‘Jiffy Pop’ and I’d never seen Jiffy pop before and I was kinda fascinated with the foil bag getting bigger and bigger. I remember her in-laws making sexual references about that. (I don’t remember anything specific, but I knew what they were joking about… and then ‘Grandpa’ grabbed ‘Grandma’ by one finger and kinda tugged on it and kept saying they had to go. People laughed. I was uncomfortable.)

And this one looks familiar. We may have had one of these.

Fourth of July tradition after I met Kelly: Her aunt would pop (in oil on the stove!) a brown paper bag full of popcorn and we’d park on the side of the street right down by Silver Lake to watch the fireworks. Soon as they were over we throw everything in the van because we had to beat the traffic out of downtown.

And then day old popcorn, out of the grease stained bag was THE BEST!

(Several years later… Kelly and I and the kids are trying to get that spot on the street again. Parking rules have changed and parking isn’t allowed. So you have to time it just right that magically ALL the cars will park at once just before the fireworks start and then the cops won’t chase you all away. I, however, have parked in the entrance to the local power plant. The cop asks us to move. I said I thought since it was closed it would be OK. He says there might be an emergency. I said I’d move if there was…..? He smiled. I moved.)

And then came microwave popcorn. How many fire alarms have been set off at work or school from the burned popcorn??

But still, the best is movie theater popcorn. With enough butter to choke a horse.

Sometimes I go to the movies just to buy popcorn. And if you buy a large, you can get a free refill on popcorn. And I got to thinking tonight (remember I was thinking about popcorn) it it’s free refills… do they care if I go to a movie? Is there a specific amount of time that has to pass between buying the popcorn and getting the refill??

You see where I’m going with this; what if I buy a large bag, dump it into some zip lock bags, and ask for a refill? That’s not wrong is it?

Do I have to buy a bag, go into the ‘megaplex’ area to a lounge, fill my bags and find a different clerk to refill? But again, why the bother? I buy a large, dump in a Target bag, and ask for a refill. Am I right??

And now the places that make the cheddar popcorn! Oh My… I could eat a gallon of that without even trying. That is good stuff. I have to forcibly limit myself around cheddar popcorn. Especially from ‘Carrols Corn’ here in Rochester. (http://www.carrollscorn.com/)

Back to popcorn in the freezer. When I was a kid and I was in the hospital, mom would bring me popcorn for a snack. She’d freeze it and bring it to me in Wonder Bread bags. (we were so poor we had to reuse the Wonder Bread Bags).

And now when I bring home extra popcorn, I put it in quart ziplock bags and put it in the freezer. It stays fresh, it doesn’t get soggy, and it’s a nice, quick, easy, cool snack.




50 thoughts on “Popcorn Memories”

  1. i am the popcorn maker in my house. we just moved to a new house with an electric stove and i am learning the rules. i tried a new pan but it wasnt an improvement so i am bacl to my big calphron spaghettit pot again. heave and large, a blop of oli and a couple kernals until the pop and then add the predetermined cup full of kernals and i dont shake them i let them sit until they quit popping. 1 stick of butter, salt in just the right amounf and for the past 6 months or so an addedd 1/2 cup or so of kraft parmasian cheese.
    my wife has tried to duplicate and i have taken painstakeingly explicit instructions and had her sit and watch me make the popcorn but every time she tries it get burnt and only fills 1/2 the pan. its pretty funny.
    she likes white popcorn instead of yello. i dont think i can really taste a diference but i know we are not buying white popcorn any time soon. we used to buy the 1 lb 3 lb 5 lb bags of popcorn but they went fast and were expensive. we now go to sams club and buy a 50 lb bag twice a year. make popcorn 3-4 times a week and leave it sitting on the counter and ther is never a kernal left. uneated. except the old maids.occasionally i need more than the 1 stick of butter if i pop a particularly large batch ( i usually do a batch that makes 3 large bowls. i recently (this house) discovered we have a large large bowl that allows me to make a batch and pour it all into one bowl. it is nice because then i dont have to worry about evenly distributing the butter int he bowls. i used to practice my golden rule with the popcorn, make three bowls, remember which on has the fluffy vs the old maids, which on has the right amount of butter and salt and cheese and give that one to my wife who loves loves loves popcorn. i get to feel good about having all the little pieces and too little butter but now with one big bowel i may eat better but long for a new way to heal my soul.
    at the movies i order the large large combo every tuesday and the frustrating part is i finish the monster tub 20 minutes into the movie and ther is no way i a going out to get another. someone mentioned the bag idea and i will try it soon. i always tak a monster bucket home with me and give it to my wife when i return. she looks forward to my tuesday movie as much as i do.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Air popper here in the end, when we both had to stop eating it a decade ago. Sandy and I had popcorn every night and played cribbage after the kids went to bed. Then with them. Then alone again. Popcorn in the camper during rain was special–air popper. We did do Jiffy pop over campfires for years with same results as tim. Grandkids think popcorn is for camping or at movies. Ben, we had a relative who gave home grown popcorn for Christmas. Not very good, not sure why.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rise and Pop, Baboons!

    Nice post, Ben. I had my entire response done and it disappeared! Argh.

    “Popcorn Smith,” owner of Jolly Time Popcorn, lived just outside of the town where we lived (LeMars, Ia). Following harvest, he opened his fields to gleaning by community members. My family, thrift people all, were out there immediately. We would glean bushels of popcorn, then store it in the garage, and separate the kernels from the cob by hand. That was hard on the thumbs. Then we would pop the corn in a frying pan in bacon grease. It was delicious.

    Predictably, one year mice found the stored popcorn in the garage. Our rat terrier, Scouty II, had a week of intense purpose, clearing out mice. She wanted recognition for a job well-done.

    As the family sat at the table for lunch one day, we saw little objects flying past the back door window. I opened the door to find about a half dozen little bodies lined up on the patio. The dog had been flipping them up so we recognized her contribution. Unidentified Flying Mice.

    We praised her. She took a nap.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Popcorn Smith. I think I like the idea of having a first name that announces what you do. It saves having to ask or be asked that question as small talk. Of course, you would be forced to decide exactly what it is you do do, and you might want to choose your product carefully. I know a guy who has made a substantial business out of turkey manure…


  4. Where’d you find all the photos, Ben?

    My dad hunted out on the land of a farmer who supplied him with the best little white popcorn I’ve ever tasted. Popped perfectly (well, for my dad) and was a welcome treat when I lived at home those last few months of 1976.

    Riverview Theater in S. Mpls has wonderful popcorn with real butter, that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Only time I can bring myself to buy theater popcorn.

    When I first met Husband he added not only the butter (maybe half a stick) and Parmesan, but also some herb like thyme. We still do that sometimes. We really should make a half batch for just the two of us, but… well, THAT’S not going to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I create the whole thing as a ‘Word’ document and just insert the pictures.
        Yes, pictures are just Google images and I probably violated some sort of copyright rules. I kind of wondered about that but I didn’t sweat the details.


        1. We have souces for copyright free photos. Just let me or VS know and we will help. I doubt we will be in truoble with these photos, but you never know.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. When we were little kids, about age 5-10, Dad used to whip up a big batch of popcorn, pour it into a paper grocery sack, and “smuggle” it into drive-in theaters so he could save money. When I think about it, I don’t believe Mom and/or Dad ever took us to a real theater to see a movie, we had to go with other kids and their parents, or when old enough, take the bus downtown to one of the movie theaters that used to be pretty much the only game in town.

    No doubt that I’m my father’s son … and my mother’s. Both have always been frugal.

    Chris in Owatonna


  6. I “inherited” the black popper with the handle on the top from an aunt & uncle…I recently started using it as I out of nowhere got a craving for popcorn. It works perfectly on my electric stove…beautifully popped corn with few or no “old maids.” And I figured out I could add soft butter without melting it first to the hot popcorn. More evenly distributed than melted butter. Funny to find this post when I have just recently re-discovered my craving for popcorn. Thanks, Ben.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. I was about to watch a movie once so I attempted to make some popcorn. So as you do I just grabbed some kernels and put them in a pot along with some vegetable oil. But halfway through making them I realised I hadn’t been stirring them. So I tried to strategically lift off the lid enough so I could put a wooden spoon in to mix and well… long story short I ended up getting hit in the face with popcorn. Yum.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I wrote about one of my popcorn memories here: https://trailbaboon.com/2012/11/07/unnatural-disaster/ but here is another one:

    For a couple summers, a family with teenagers the same age as my older sisters stayed at the resort and us kids hit it off (well, my sisters hit it off; they were kind enough to include me the bratty little sister in some of their evenings). We were at their cabin playing a game which put us in a very silly frame of mind. The mother of the family decided to make popcorn. She had never made it before, so my oldest sister explained to her how to do it and soon we could hear the pleasant sound of the kernels popping in the pan. Then she said, “Let me just check how it’s doing,” and took off the lid to look at it. Kernels flew everywhere – she screamed and slammed the lid back down – and we about fell on the floor laughing.

    You had to be there.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I’ve timed my early morning break at work for 8:30am this week so I could listen to Mike Pengra play a snippet from the LGMS Farewell Show on MPR. This morning they played the Dr. Larry Kyle from Genway Foods piece. OMG, that is so hilarious! I sure miss Tom Keith, though.

    OK, so popcorn memories … hmmm, well nothing special there. I used to make it as a snack fairly often at home, but since trying to cut carbs I’ve not done that. I only have expensive movie theater popcorn when we do occasionally see a movie. And then it’s gone before we’re even 15 minutes into the movie, even with the monster tub.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. i have impressed the kid behindf the counter with my popcorn prowess when i order and add that i would like to butter and salt the middle. if they are in charge of the butter i tell them heavy heavy butter and then i sale it discretely, then they add the remaining popcorn and i have them heavy heavy butter it again. then the final salt goes on and i grab a pocketful of napkins. the west theater which gives you the choice of real butter for a buck is a great theater and it has the flavor powder with cheese, taco and real butter flavors on tap. i believe the right way to do it is to get your corn, go find your seat. pour the bucket into the white garbage bag and go out for the reload. the second bucket will make it through the movie then i can reload for the third time for the trip home. i buy the cheap theater ticket on tuesday for 5 bucks but the popcorn and pop are about 10 more but the third reload makes it justifiable.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I don’t care for popcorn, never have. There I have said it. I know that probably sounds crazy to the lot of you, but there’s nothing about it I like. Not the smell, the taste or the texture. In fact, popcorn is one of the reasons I don’t like going to the movies. The sound of people munching popcorn all around me drives me nuts.

    When I worked at the school, just about every afternoon someone would pop popcorn in the microwave just around the corner from my office. With regular intervals it would burn, and the stench of it wafted freely down the hall and into my office.

    From time to time, Hans will make himself a bowl of it; he knows it’s one treat he doesn’t have to worry about sharing with me.


    1. My dad didn’t like popcorn either. It might have been because of his dentures. (Because it would get under them I suppose, right?)
      Mom and I would share popcorn.

      And today Kelly and I were downtown and it was ‘Thursdays On First’ (a weekly summer event with lots of booths of crafts and foods).
      We bought two bags of Carrols Cheddar corn! One for each of us!


  12. I do not have a popcorn story – at least not different than the stories from today’s stories (lid off, burned, air popped, etc). I do like popcorn and will admit to liking microwave popcorn quite a bit. Don’t like the air popped stuff (unless it has LOTS of butter). YA and I also always get the kettle-corn at the State Fair!


      1. Air popped means it’s in one of those machines that uses hot air to pop the corn without any oil. Ick. Kettle corn is made in big copper kettles and there’s a little bit of sugar in it so the popcorn has a little bit of a sweet edge but just a little.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. For many years I made popcorn on the stove, as Ben describes. Just a couple of sentinel kernels in the pan. Pop, pop. Then you pour in the rest. That’s the really authentic way to do it.

    Agree w/BIR, the popcorn at the Riverview Theater is the best.

    Candyland has great popcorn if you need a quantity for a potluck or whatever. If you get their three-way, the caramel corn goes down the fastest, followed by the the cheese popcorn. Usually there’s some plain white left at the end of the day. That’s fine; more for me.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I share your obsession with popcorn. I bring a large empty Ziplock bag to the movies so I can send my husband for a refill before the movie starts. He knows its “his duty” to get the refill because it’s a part of our date night. The manager of the movie said that it wasn’t necessary to bring the bag because she would provide us with a free single serving bag. Did she say single serving? get real!


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