Popped Corn

January 7, 2013

Popped Corn

My favorite food on this lovely planet of ours springs from the Earth in the form of corn…But it’s not corn that I like. In fact, corn is pretty: “Meh.”

No, it’s when you dry corn kernels into rock-like beads that the magic starts to happen. Once that kernel is dry, it has a hard outer shell surrounding a center of solid starch. Microwave popcorn companies, like Pop-Secret, fill tiny bags with these kernels and then coat them in butter and seasoning. At home, popcorn enthusiasts like myself put these bags into our microwaves and press a little button that says “popcorn” to start the pleasing sound of the buttery popping symphony.

Inside the bag of popcorn, though, something amazing is happening. Each kernel begins to build up internal pressure as their tough outer shells refuse to budge while the liquid butter heats up the starch within. Eventually, the starch enters a gelatin-like state and once the pressure builds to 930 kPa, the shell of the kernel pops and the starch explodes outwards. The starch, now free of the intense pressure, instantly solidifies into a foam-like substance that we know as…popcorn.

Isn’t science fun?

But really, popcorn is the best. It’s the food of my people…And by my people, I mean the people of the entertainment or theatre world. Popcorn is what you eat when you go to a movie or a game or a show…it’s the food of people looking to be entertained.

Oh, and I have to tell you the best kind of popcorn! See, it’s easy to get distracted with what matters on popcorn when we’re surrounded by all these “gourmet” popcorn options that are covered in caramel or chocolate or cheese or seasoning or God knows what…But I know what’s really important. The best kind of popcorn can be found in any local grocery store in the snack food aisle. Pop-Secret’s Homestyle Popcorn is where it’s at. That is, without a doubt, the best popcorn I’ve ever had. The thing is, salt is kind of an essential ingredient to a great bowl of popcorn and it’s even better when that salt is part of the popcorn popping process. (Salt has a different effect if it’s in the bag as the kernels pop or added afterwards.) Homestyle Popcorn has the salt in the bag while it pops. “Well, what does that mean for me?” You might be wondering. It means that if you eat a bowl of Pop-Secret’s Homestyle Popcorn, you’re takin a one-way train straight to snacking heaven.

One last thing about popcorn and then I’ll let you go…If you “finish” a bowl of popcorn and there’s “only” kernels left…and you throw those kernels away…Smack yourself. You’re about to be corrected. See, just because those kernels weren’t quite up to popping…it doesn’t mean their not good! I. Eat. The. Kernels. But there’s a method to the madness. You’ve gotta suck on the kernels until their a little bit soft and then the coat-like membrane that surrounds the kernel can be peeled off. That coat is good to eat. Then, I don’t mind just going in and biting into those kernels with a satisfying crack. Yeah, it’s probably terrible for my teeth. But it’s the price I pay for being a popcorn enthusiast.

I absolutely love popcorn. I really do. It’s my favorite food this planet has to offer. It’s buttery. It’s salty. It’s crunchy. It’s light. It’s…calling my name.

I really want a bag of popcorn now…

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

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