Whatever happened to …

… popcorn?

Recently, a friend of mine shared this image. He didn’t realize that this was still available for sale.

I can’t remember the last time that I had some of this but I don’t have fond memories. It seemed that it was overly dry and sweet. I don’t recall if being available in town but something that we saw if we made a trip to London. It always seemed like a lot of packaging for a little popcorn.

Popcorn has always been part of my life. On Saturday nights, when we watched Hockey Night in Canada, we would pop some. If we wanted some, we had to make our own. We had this old pot and you’d put it on the stove with some oil in it and three kernels of popcorn. When one of them would pop, we were allowed to pour in the half cup of kernels and the pot was sealed with a piece of tin foil. Things would just pop and it was fascinating to see them pop into the tin foil and eventually just lift the foil a bit to let you know it was done. Thinking back, I realize now that the half cup was indeed science and not just dumb luck.

That same pot would come with us on camping trips and we’d pop over an open fire. It had a somewhat smokier taste to it! Other people had a mesh device for popping corn over a campfire.

Over the years, popcorn has always been there. After swimming at the town pool, we often would get the gift of a bag of Cheesie popcorn and would be pretty much orange by the time we got home. We’ve made popcorn in a frying pan and, at university, there was this big deal – a hot air popper. If you liked your popcorn really dry, this was for you.

Probably the tastiest popcorn is available at movie theatres where you get them in $20 tubs drowning in butter and flavoured to your liking.

Nowadays for us, popcorn comes in little paper pouches that go into the microwave. Our microwave actually has a popcorn setting but it’s a little long for a typical bag of Compliments popcorn. I like the popcorn a little toasty; it reminds me of camping I guess, but I’m reminded I’m not the only popcorn eater in the house.

But the very best popcorn these days around here is sold in a bag. It’s called Popper’s Kettle Corn, made and sold by a small business in Harrow. Recently, it’s become available in the grocery store but traditionally, we buy them at the Farmer’s market or in gatherings like the Harrow Fair. Sadly, that won’t happen this year.

What are your feelings about popcorn?

  • how far back does your memory of popcorn go?
  • did you ever enjoy any of that sweet popcorn candy?
  • if you make your own at home, how do you make it these days?
  • have you ever chipped or broken a tooth by chewing down on an unpopped kernel?
  • do you have any family traditions or superstitions about the popping of popcorn?

Please take a moment to share them in the comments below.

This post originates from:


If you read it anywhere else, it’s not the original.

7 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Doug, I should send this blog post of yours to my teaching partner, Paula. She lives on popcorn. She often says that eating popcorn is her “Self-Reg strategy.” I’m not sure about that, but I do know that if she’s stressed about something, popcorn consumption increases. I think Stuart Shanker has a blog post around why popcorn (and other salty foods) are popular during these moments of stress. I will not explain this well either, so should probably send her the link to that one too. Smart Pop is her favourite brand. It’s that white cheddar one that’s so delicious. I think that I have to agree with her on this one. All I know is that when we went in to clean, organize, and pack up our classroom this year, in addition to boxes, I bought popcorn. It was a good move. 🙂 So I’m not sure that I can really answer any of your questions, but when you ask, “What happened to popcorn?,” I had to say that it was “alive and well in our classroom.” Now mind you, then the pandemic hit, and I didn’t see Paula eating any popcorn in her home classroom. Hmmm … less stressful? Or just not pictured in the video? I might need to ask her about this one. 🙂 Interested to hear other people’s popcorn stories.



  2. Doug, as I pushed publish on my comment, I realized that I do have my own popcorn story. I’ve never cracked a tooth on a popcorn kernel before, but I think that this experience of mine might be one of a kind. 😂 adunsiger.com/2014/06/23/and-it-all-started-with-a-popcorn-kernel



  3. We use an air popper at least once a week at our house. We were all out so I tried to buy more at the grocery store yesterday. They only had microwave popcorn which we do not like. Lucky I have my back up source! When we decorate our Christmas tree we eat homemade caramel popcorn and on car trips it’s SmartPop. I really do miss Cracker Jacks!


  4. My parents bought me a hot air corn popper as part of my ‘Graduating/Going to Teachers’ College/Moving Far Away by Myself’ gift. That was almost 40 years ago and it’s still the only thing we make popcorn with. You used to be able to melt butter in a little plastic tray that used the same hot air that was popping the corn, but over the decades the tray has developed cracks, so now we use a small pot on the stove for that.

    I think, maybe, my parents bought Jiffy Pop Popcorn in the tinfoil pan (as seen on countless kids TV shows during commercials), but usually it was the old metal pot with the red wooden handle on the lid.

    We don’t have a microwave, so never had much use for those flat packages that never smell(ed?) quite right to me as they cooked. Although if someone made some at work I’d usually take a few…

    The most interesting popcorn experience is when you find it somewhere, usually on vacation, AND IT’S STILL ON THE COB! Just pop that thing into a paper bag and then into a microwave (usually at a friend’s – see above) and voila! Real popcorn!

    We’ll usually break down at the movie theatre and buy the smallest bag possible, which is still enough for the two of us. I note that today it’s covered in pumps of butter and not the ‘golden topping’ of the 80’s.

    On a potentially sad note, my wife is starting to mention the discoloration on the sides of my 38 year old corn popper whenever we bring it up from the basement. I think it may not last us much beyond coronatime… Sigh…


  5. Pingback: My Week Ending 2020-07-19 – doug — off the record

  6. Pingback: OTR Links 07/20/2020 – doug — off the record

  7. Fun topic! — Who can imagine life without popcorn? 😀
    As a child, I think it was usually the prepared “Jiffy Pop” stove top method at our house — or maybe the only way our parents trusted us to make it. My husband and I did have an incident with the oil in the pot method in the first year were lived together. Luckily the flame was smothered, but I think we got a hot air popper after that. We inherited one of those metal mesh basket types for the fire from his family as well. We used it a few times during a backyard fire pit gathering, but a bit too much on the burnt side too.

    I don’t buy commercially prepared or flavoured popcorn very much now, except for the local “kettle corn” on occasion. A few local grocers stock it as well. I prefer regular, but my husband prefers caramel…
    I probably have stressed a tooth or two. I try to be very careful with those seedier pieces!

    Movie theatres, you say … the best had to be at the drive-in movie theatre’s concession where I worked as a teen 🙂 Popcorn sales had its own corner of the concession. One summer, I was in charge of the “popcorn room”. It was fun filling those big pots that dropped the popped corn into the large bin for scooping. “Butter” topping was usually measured, but orders for extra butter and salt were accepted. But there was certainly some stress in that popcorn assignment! We had to getting popping well before movie time, monitor the numbers reported from the ticket sales booth, prepare batches accordingly before intermission time again, and keep a certain amount going after that. Freshness was important. It was a careful balance of not running out in front of a big line of patrons and not having too much leftover at the end of the night. I probably ate too much popcorn that summer.

    You didn’t link the “Popcorn Song” 🙂


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