It seems that we take microwave popcorn for granted. In days past,
when someone wanted popcorn, they needed a big pot, a stove, oil,
and a good pair of oven mitts to ensure that their hands were protected
while they steadily shook the pot back and forth over the heated
burner. Once the popcorn was through popping, you would melt butter
and add your choice of toppings to your freshly popped popcorn and
give it a thorough toss to ensure that each kernel was coated to
perfection. Today, microwave popcorn takes a lot of the work out
of the process. No longer do you need to keep a pot over an open
flame or burner and continually shake the pot to ensure that each
kernel popped to perfection. With a microwave, you can simply place
your bag on the glass tray, set your timer, and watch as the microwave
does all of the work for you.
Microwaves differ from conventional ovens because microwaves utilize
radio waves to cook your food. These waves are very small, hence
why they are called “micro”, and they do an amazing
job at cooking food in a very short amount of time. Microwaves cook
food from the inside out. This means that the microwave actually
causes the water and fat molecules inside of a food object to move
around and heat up. This is in contrast to conventional cooking
that uses conduction to heat and cook food from the outside first,
and then to the inside. It is this theory of cooking that causes
microwave popcorn to pop.
Inside of a popcorn kernel there is moisture. In fact, it is moisture
or water inside of a kernel that actually causes popcorn to pop.
If a popcorn kernel's moisture were to dry out you would find that
you wouldn't be able to make popcorn. Microwaves work by heating
the inner core of a food first. Since the inside of the popcorn
kernel contains water, when it is heated by the microwave, the water
particles begin to move around causing the inside of the kernel
to expand. This expansion is the source of the “pop”
of the popcorn. As the water inside of the kernel heats up, it builds
up a great deal of pressure until it basically explodes. When it
explodes you have popcorn. If you've ever noticed that when you
popped popcorn that there were kernels that were left unpopped,
that is because those kernels did not have enough water to successfully
When you pop microwave popcorn, the bag is designed specifically
for the microwave. Also, the popcorn kernels will be coated in seasonings
or flavorings as well as being coated in vegetable oil. When you
place the bag in the microwave, you will see the bag expand as steam
increases inside the bag. This steam not only causes the bag to
rise but also for the kernels to pop. There are also special coatings
used to ensure that the microwaves will heat the kernels evenly
and pop all of the kernels at the same rate.
Most people know that plain popcorn, or popcorn that is seasoned
with a low calories flavoring is low in calories, but many wonder
if it is in fact healthy. When it comes to choosing a healthy snack,
it is not only important to look for snacks that are low in calorie,
but also to choose snacks that offer some nutritional value as well.
One of the best nutritional values provided by popcorn is the fact
that it is high in fiber. Americans rarely get enough fiber in their
daily diet, and by adding popcorn as a snack; you can help beat
calories as well as increase your fiber intake. Popcorn is a whole
grain food; this makes it a good choice for carbohydrates as well
as fiber. In fact, since popcorn makes up one serving of the starches
recommended by the American Dietetic Association, you might be amazed
to discover that when it comes to serving sizes, popcorn offers
the most generous amount.
Three cups of popcorn is the equivalent of one slice of bread,
½ cup of cooked pasta, and one cup of cereal. Three cups
is much more than the other servings and you may feel fuller after
eating three cups of popcorn then you would after eating one slice
of bread. This offers great benefits for those who are looking for
a healthy snack that can satisfy their hunger and provide them with
a feeling of being full. It is also important to choose the oil
that you pop your popcorn in carefully. Canola oil is usually recommended
as being the healthiest choice if you don't have an air popper which
is the best.
If you love to eat popcorn, then you may have wondered just how
many calories are in this buttered treat. You may be surprised to
discover that popcorn can range in calories from a minimal 30 calories
per serving to a whopping 500 calories. It all depends on the type
of popcorn that you are eating.
The lowest calories per serving are found in plain homemade popcorn.
One serving of plain popcorn is 30 calories; you can add additional
calories for any toppings that you add. If you melt a stick of butter
and add that to your popcorn, you would have to add those calories
to your serving. However, if you select a butter topping or seasoning
that comes in a shaker, you will find that those calories are very
small, typically accounting for five additional calories.
If you look for the calorie content on a box of microwave popcorn,
you may be surprised to discover that unpopped popcorn has more
calories than popped. Typically, microwave popcorn will have about
35-40 calories per serving. One bag of microwave popcorn usually
makes about 3 ½ servings; so one total bag of microwave popcorn
would have about 140 calories. Not a bad amount of calories for
those who are watching their weight.
The largest amount of calories per popcorn serving is found in
movie theater popcorn. These large buckets of popcorn generally
contain about 1500-1600 calories. Even broken down into serving
sizes, these buckets generally yield about 500 calories per serving.
If you want to save calories, you may want to stick with homemade
or microwave popcorn and bypass the movie theater popcorn next time
you go to the theater.
There is no doubt that the most common popcorn seasoning is plain
butter and salt. However, you may be surprised to discover that
there are numerous additional popcorn seasoning and flavorings available
to choose from. The most common and simplest way to ensure that
your popcorn is seasoned to perfection and carries the flavor that
you prefer is to purchase your popcorn seasoning in a separate bottle
and sprinkle it on your popcorn once it is finished popping.
Some of the most popular popcorn flavoring selections include Barbecue,
Chili, Caramel, Cheddar, Butter, Garlic, Nacho, Sour Cream and Onion,
Chocolate, Cinnamon, Jalapeno, Cajun, Kettle Corn, and Movie Theater.
You will undoubtedly find that there are many more popcorn seasoning
selections to choose from, but these are the most popular.
One of the greatest benefits of using popcorn seasoning is that
it is a great way to ensure that your popcorn remains a low calorie
healthy treat. Though there is no doubt that everyone loves the
taste of hot melted butter drizzled over their popcorn. However,
if you are watching your weight and eating popcorn because it fits
in with your diet plan, you'll soon find that hot melted butter
quickly adds additional calories and fat. Using popcorn seasonings
is a great way to ensure that your popcorn tastes delicious while
Many of the popcorn seasoning selections available contain very
minimal calories and add no additional fat, though you should always
read the labels to make certain. One flavor in particular that saves
a great amount of fat and calories is the movie theater popcorn
flavoring. When you visit a movie theater, if you purchase a large
bucket of popcorn with butter, you will be eating roughly 1500 calories.
Compare this to a microwave bag of popcorn that may equal roughly
160 calories per serving. If you pop the popcorn yourself and substitute
a low calories/no fat movie theater popcorn seasoning you will save
a tremendous amount of calories. Plain popcorn has about thirty
calories, and with the right low calorie seasonings, you have a
wonderful snack that won't cause you to gain any additional weight.
In addition to the many popcorn seasonings and flavorings that
are available on the market, some people enjoy creating their own
seasonings. However, it should be noted that anytime you begin to
add butter to your popcorn, you are adding calories. Some homemade
popcorn seasonings include seasoning with onion soup mix, sprinkling
popcorn with garlic or onion salt, hickory smoke seasoning, cinnamon,
paprika, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, basil, oregano, and cayenne
pepper. You can create a low calorie version by substituting butter
flavoring for real butter. Just make sure to shake the popcorn thoroughly
to ensure that your seasoning coats each popped kernel.
When counting calories, it is important to realize that the key
is to read labels. You may be confused a bit when you read that
unpopped popcorn has more calories per serving then popped corn.
This tends to be due to the fact that starch burns off in the popping
process. However, the important information is obtained by counting
the calories and fat grams that reside in your popcorn seasoning
and flavoring choices. Whether you are eating movie theater popcorn,
microwave popcorn, or home popped popcorn.
Popcorn is one of America's favorite treats. It is low in calories,
nutritious, and low in fat. It is one of the few snacks that make
up part of a healthy diet and is enjoyed by children and adults
alike. However, you should always use caution when feeding popcorn
to young children, such as toddlers. Though popcorn is one of the
most popular snacks, there are growing concerns regarding the safety
of microwave popcorn. New studies have shown that breathing the
fumes of the butter used on microwave popcorn may contribute to
health problems. With this safety issue in mind, many people are
choosing to pop their own popcorn, either in an air popper or by
hand on the stove, and create their own homemade popcorn seasonings.
Creating your own homemade popcorn seasonings is simple and easy.
Many people love the rich buttery taste of movie theater popcorn,
and this is one of the benefits regarding creating your own homemade
popcorn seasonings. You can melt pure butter and add salt to taste.
If you prefer a little kick to your popcorn, you can add a little
hot sauce and blend it in with the melted butter before adding it
to the popcorn.
One of America's favorite popcorn treat is caramel popcorn or Cracker
Jacks. You can create your own caramel seasoning and even add peanuts
to the mix, for your own homemade version. For one pot of popcorn,
you will need about 2 cups of unsalted peanuts, ½ cup of
corn syrup, 1 stick of pure unsalted butter, 2 cups of brown sugar,
½ teaspoon of baking soda, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and ½
teaspoon salt. First pop the popcorn and set aside. In a saucepan
bring butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar to a boil. Let boil for
three minutes. Turn off heat and stir in peanuts, baking soda, vanilla,
and salt. Combine this mixture with the popcorn and place into an
already greased large roasting pan. Bake the mixture for one hour,
stirring at least every fifteen minutes, in an oven set at 250 degrees.
Kettle corn is enjoyed by many and often available at country fairs.
You can create your own version of kettle corn by adding two-three
tablespoons to the popcorn oil before adding the popcorn. Additionally,
you can add two or three tablespoons of granulated sugar to melted
butter and add it to the popcorn afterwards.
If you would like a nacho flavored seasoning, you can mix 1 stick
of butter, with 1 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon of crushed
red pepper, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, and ½ cup of
grated parmesan cheese. First, melt the butter and then stir in
the paprika, cumin, and crushed red pepper. Add the mixture to the
popcorn and then cover with grated cheese.
You can create a chocolate seasoning for your popcorn by combining
a ½ cup of sugar, ½ cup corn syrup, ¼ cup unsalted
butter, 2-4 tablespoons of unprocessed cocoa powder, a dash or ½
teaspoon of salt. Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to
a slow boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and cover popcorn
with mix. You can cover the popcorn in a pan or roll into popcorn
balls. If you'd like more creative ideas, you can look at the ingredients
in many commercial seasoning products and add those spices to your
butter as it is melting.
The FDA has been investigating claims that a chemical involved
in the flavoring process of microwave popcorn has been linked to
cancer. Recently, Con Agra, the leading producer of microwave popcorn
has decided to remove the chemical, Diacetyl from the flavoring
process of microwave popcorn.
Diacetyl is responsible for giving microwave popcorn its delectable
butter flavor, however many workers who have been exposed to the
chemical in the manufacturing process have developed a rare form
of lung disease called, Bronchiolitis Obliterans. Bronchiolitis
Obliterans is also referred to as Popcorn Lung. Though Popcorn Lung
is most commonly seen in workers who are exposed to Diacetyl, there
was a case where a man who ate two bags of microwave popcorn each
night contracted the disease. It is also said that he liked to inhale
the fumes of the buttery flavor as he took his popcorn out of the
microwave. There has not been any conclusive evidence that his case
of Bronchiolitis Obliterans was linked to the popcorn, but manufacturers
aren't taking any chances.
Con Agra manufactures microwave popcorn under the name brands Act
II and Orville Redenbacher. In fact, several months ago Con Agra
started limiting the use of Diacetyl, but as of December 2007, has
stopped manufacturing popcorn with the dangerous chemical.
Other leading microwave popcorn manufacturers have removed Diacetyl
from their brands. For example, General Mills began creating microwave
popcorn without Diacetyl back in October 2007. The company, American
Pop Corn has also stated that by January of 2008, they will stop
using Diacetyl in their products that are sold under the brand name,
We eat it nearly every day, are accustomed to buying it when we
go to the theaters, and can conveniently pop it in a microwave in
less than three minutes but have you ever stopped to think about
the history of popcorn?
You may be surprised to discover that the history of popcorn is
a bit controversial. This is because the first archaeological finds
of popcorn date between 4,000 – 5,000 years old, though the
exact date cannot be specified. However, what can be proved is that
popcorn was very common and a popular snack during the 1890's. In
fact, it wasn't until the Great Depression that popcorn was regularly
eaten. During the Depression, the price of corn escalated to levels
that made it difficult for people to afford corn in all of its forms,
including kernels. However, though popcorn was expensive it was
still a very lucrative business, and many people who went into the
popcorn business during the time of the Great Depression found that
their businesses thrived. This is attributed to the fact that many
people went to the movie theater during the Great Depression and
as most people know, a great movie is complimented with a bag or
bucket of popcorn.
Charles Cretors invented the first popcorn machine in the year
1885. He unveiled his masterpiece at the 1893 Chicago World Fair
and during the same event, another inventor; F.W. Rueckheim displayed
his invention, caramel corn. By 1896, popcorn had made its grand
debut in a new product, Cracker Jacks.
Charles Cretors' invention was revolutionary because it utilized
steam power and actually popped the kernels in oil. In addition
to Cracker Jacks, popcorn was also a popular treat found in pudding,
fritters, candied, caramel, in cereal, covered in chocolate, and
served as popcorn balls.
Today, Charles Cretors' company continues to lead the way in popcorn
machine sales. He had his first patent issued between 1900 and 1910.
This patent included a peanut roaster that consisted of a horse
drawn popcorn wagon. As electricity became more commonplace, it
was Charles Cretors that first utilized this technology and invented
the first electric popcorn popper. Their first popcorn machine was
called the Earnmore Popper. The Earnmore Popper became extremely
popular as electricity rendered the popcorn machines much simpler
and easier to use.
Charles Cretors' company did very well but when the Great Depression
struck, Charles decided that he should redesign a popcorn popper
that would be efficient for use inside movie theaters. Therefore,
he designed several popcorn models that were designed specifically
for the movie business industry. The movie theaters purchased the
new popcorn poppers and both the movie industry and Charles Cretors'
business thrived until 1941. During that year, the United States
stopped producing any materials, machines, or equipment that weren't
related to the war effort. The popcorn industry began to take a
bit of a dive.
During the 1950's to 1960's the popcorn industry was all about
changing the market from moviegoers to those who would consume popcorn
in their homes, preferable while watching television or just as
a snack in general. Cretors got to work and created the Giant Special
Popping Plant, which was targeted towards homeowners and successfully
ensured that families would include popcorn as part of their regular
diets. The look, ease, and simplicity of the popcorn maker has continued
to ensure that families everywhere can enjoy the delicious taste
of fresh popped popcorn.