Nostalgia can strike at the most random moments. My most recent episode was triggered by the sight, smell and taste of fluffy kernels of popcorn.
Even though these kernels came from a bag of the Orville Redenbacher’s microwave variety, popcorn always takes me back to Sunday evenings of my childhood when Mom would use the largest Revere Ware skillet to prepare it. She would slide the pan back and forth over the stove burner as the popcorn beat a staccato rhythm beneath the lid.
“Family popcorn night” may inspire visions of a big bowl labeled in fancy script, and smaller matching bowls for individual portions.
When the popping stopped Mom would quickly transfer the pan’s contents to a brown paper grocery bag. After several repetitions of this process, she would drizzle melted butter over the popcorn and apply some salt. The sack would then be delivered to the living room where we all dipped into it with our various mismatched bowls – cereal bowls, small serving bowls, all sized proportionately, of course, with mine being the smallest. I don’t remember that being an issue for me, or the supply of popcorn ever running short.
We’d all gather around to watch The Ed Sullivan Show, but I don’t recall a thing about any guests of note. To my young self, the star of the night was popcorn.
When Lorn was young the subject of popcorn came up and I realized he didn’t know there was any other form of popcorn other than microwave. He seemed to disbelieve my story of how Mom would prepare it, so at the very first opportunity I bought some regular popcorn. Soon thereafter I realized I was ill-equipped to prepare it, but managed it with a big stew pot. How I wished for that big skillet with a long handle!
We enjoyed experimenting with different seasonings but the novelty soon wore off.
Sometime after that – more than 10 years ago – I swore off popcorn after a tooth vs. unpopped kernel incident at one of Lorn’s ballgames. Once in a while, though, I’d gingerly partake of some tasty caramel corn when tempted. Eventually, I decided I could trust myself to eat – slowly and carefully – some Redenbacher’s popcorn marketed as “tender.”
Amazingly, popcorn actually can be eaten one or two pieces at a time rather than by the handful. Lightly salted and not overly buttered. It was awesome. Popcorn makes a comeback!
When I last purchased it I couldn’t find the “tender” kind so I have to be even more careful, at least until I have every tooth crowned so that unpopped kernels aren’t a problem.
True or False?
• Popcorn was once a popular breakfast food.
• Popcorn was integral to early 16th century Aztec Indian ceremonies.
• Victorian-era families often decorated fireplace mantels, doorways and Christmas trees with ornate ornaments made from popcorn balls.
• The popcorn business thrived during the Great Depression.
• Americans ate three times as much popcorn as usual during WWII.
• Popcorn was the key to many experiments during development of the microwave oven.
According to The Popcorn Board, there are seven myths commonly associated with popcorn. Because the Board is a marketing cooperative of popcorn companies, the information is decidedly in popcorn’s favor, of course, but here are some popcorn facts that contradict the myths:
• There has never been, nor is there currently, any genetically modified organism (GMO) popcorn or popcorn seed for sale in the U.S. Further, the Popcorn Board is not aware of any GMO popcorn or popcorn seed available for sale in international markets.
• Popcorn does not contain wheat, rye, or barley gluten—the types of gluten most associated with gluten disorders. Other ingredients in ready-to-eat or microwave popcorn may contain gluten, so consumers should read labels carefully if they are concerned.
• The flavoring additive diacetyl has not been used in microwave products since 2007.
• Popcorn is a whole grain, and whole grains contain the roughage needed in a daily diet.
• Popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories. (This is without the movie theater butter or other additives, of course).
• PFOAs, or perfluorooctanoic acid, are sometimes used in grease-resistant coatings for paper, such as fast food wrappers, candy wrappers and pizza box liners. Microwave popcorn bag manufacturers have been addressing the issue of removing PFOAs since 2006, and confirm that the grease resistant coating in the majority of microwave popping bags is not produced with PFOA.
And a safety tip: standard brown paper bags should not be used to microwave popcorn. Plain and/or recycled paper bags are not made for use in the microwave oven and could catch fire or cause other issues.
All the True or False statements above are TRUE (according to information posted at www.popcorn.org, where you can read more detail about each topic).
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