Posted by: jgurner | March 15, 2011

My Popcorn Obsession

Those who know me fairly well know about my obsession with popcorn.

To me, it’s the perfect snack food. Not because it’s supposed to be better for you than most snack foods we eat, or it’s easy and inexpensive to make. I just like it. It’s crunchy. It can be salty, or spicy or buttery or sweet (though not my favorite). You can customize it pretty much any way you want to or just eat it plain with a little salt (or a whole lotta salt, as the case may be.)

But, I’m not just obsessed, I’m also kind of a popcorn snob.

For instance, I consider microwave popcorn to be evil. It’s the lowest common denominator popcorn. It comes from a bag full of chemicals and it tastes like a bag full of chemicals. It doesn’t necessarily keep me from eating it if push comes to shove, but you’ll find none in my home.

On the other end of the scale is some movie theater popcorn. It really depends what the popcorn is popped in. The best is, of course, the unhealthiest – when they use coconut oil, real buttery topping and plenty of salt. Some theaters, however, have switched to healthier oils such as canola and the results, while still tasty, don’t even come close.

But, the popcorn that is really the most satisfying is what I make myself at home. I’m serious about my popcorn. Currently, I have 13 different kinds of raw popcorn. I use several different oils or butter to pop corn in, depending on what I want – vegetable oil, corn oil, olive oil, regular butter, whipped butter – or any combination of those and other oils I have from time to time. I currently have five different kinds of salt I might use as any given time. Just salt, not any kind of salt/spice mix. When it comes to those, I have even more I use – several different kinds of Cajun/spicy mix, cheese toppings, butter salts, barbecue seasonings, even just plain ground pepper. A little salt and a little ground pepper in the oil makes for a great tasting popcorn.

I have one popcorn popper. It’s the stove top kind with the handle you turn while the corn is popping. You can get electric poppers that do a reasonable job. We had one while I was growing up. But, they’re often unvented or not vented well enough and too much moisture is trapped which can make the popcorn a little mushy. Same thing with a similar microwavable device. Plus, you’re limited to exactly what you can use to pop your corn in. And air poppers, they make a product that’s not entirely unlike eating styrofoam packing peanuts.

While I have plenty of different kinds of popcorn ranging from Firework Red to Midnite Black, my mainstay is just plain old yellow popcorn – the kind you find in any grocery store. Of course, not all raw popcorn is the same. Of the brands that are most widely available Orville Redenbacher is pretty much the top dog with Act II coming in a close second. The Act II is what I usually get, mainly because the Orville Redenbacher isn’t available anywhere I shop in a 50 lb. bag.

Yes, I said 50 lb. bag.

Yes, I buy 50 lb. bags of raw popcorn.

Why? You may ask? Well, as I said: I love popcorn. I eat a lot of popcorn and in recent years I’ve found it’s much cheaper and more convenient to buy in bulk. If I spend $15 on a 50 lb. bag of popcorn it save me about $60 over buying it a pound at a time at the grocery store. Plus, it usually lasts about two years, and if you keep it in an air-tight container, it’s still just as good two years later as it is the day you bought it. In fact, popcorn kernels have been found that are estimated to be 5,600 years old and they still pop fine.

The fancy stuff, naturally, costs more, but they’re usually no more than $3 or so a pound. White popcorn and popcorn with different colored hulls – red, black, purple, etc. – are often times more flavorful, but some people don’t care for them. They are a little tougher than people are used to, plus they don’t pop as “fluffy” as the regular large yellow kernels. And my experience is they taste best when popped in corn oil. In general corn oil helps preserve the natural taste of popcorn.

Right now, I’m at my lowest point, popcorn-wise, in several years. I’ve gotten to the last few scoops of my previous 50 lb. bag and, just recently, I mixed the remnants of the 12 varieties of specialty popcorn together which actually turned out to make a nice mix of different sizes, textures and flavors of popcorn. So, soon, it will be time to restock.

I don’t know exactly what kinds of specialty popcorn I’ll get this time round. Believe me, there are plenty of different kinds out there if you know where to look. But I do know that next time I head to Memphis, I’ll be coming home with another 50 lb. bag or raw popcorn kernels and probably several large jugs of different oils to pop in.

Some obsessions are better than others and, I have to say, as far as obsessions go, this one is at least pretty tasty.



  1. Have you had any popcorn while in Chicago? They apparently take it pretty seriously up there. Garrett’s popcorn is a favorite indulgence of my team at work.

  2. Pretty much all I’ve had in Chicago is either movie theater popcorn or Target popcorn. I’ve heard of Garrett’s, but I’ve never had any. I’ll have to add it to one of my next trips up there.

  3. So glad to hear I’m not the only one that LOVES popcorn. I can’t count how many times I’ve agreed to go see a stupid movie with my husband just so I could have some premo movie theatre buttered popcorn. We have microwave popcorn in our cabinet but I only eat it when I’m desperate. I have yet to purchase a whirly pop but this post has convinced me! When I lived at home my mom had a whirly pop and I made popcorn all the time. My favorite is white kernels with melted butter with a quality nacho cheese powdered topping. Thanks!

  4. omg ! im not the only one… thank god because i thought that this was only my obsession literally i can have popcorn everyday and i cant get bored of it!!!!

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