One Clean Thing ~ The New Microwave Popcorn

By Tom Hayes

As a kid growing up in Lowell, Massachusetts, we’d spend every Saturday morning downtown at the Strand Theater watching two-for-one double features of the latest B movies—usually something involving old school vampires or zombies with machetes. Me, I was there for the popcorn. The aroma of the Strand lobby was mesmerizing—and the olfactory joy of freshly popped corn is still the best part of going to the movies for me.

Today, I have become a popcorn connoisseur: I have a very specific and time-tested regimen to my popcorn making which produces with absolute consistency the fluffiest, most flavorful bounty you will ever gorge yourself on. Only problem is, it takes a little time and effort to make, and I don’t always have time to cowboy up over my well-worn popping pot. So, like millions of others, I have at times resorted to the convenience of microwave bags. No more: turns out, that microwave bags are downright dangerous.

The EPA found you breathe in nearly four dozen chemicals in the steam released by opening a bag of microwave popcorn. Even if the popcorn is organic, the bag itself is a toxic train wreck. One of the worst, flavoring agent Diacetyl has been linked to respiratory disease in factory workers – something literally called “popcorn lung.”

So, when I can’t afford enough time for the full Monty, I have been lately reduced to a lesser plan C– pre-popped bag popcorn (it’s a sad testament to popcorn’s hold on me, really). Normally, the pre-popped stuff has the personality of packing peanuts, but thanks be to heaven (okay, Indiana), because there is now a middle ground.

The good folks (geniuses really) at the Popcorn, Indiana company have come up with a solution to the problem: the safely microwavable bag of pre-popped popcorn. Just one minute in the old laser oven and ding, you can tear open a warm bowl of aromatic goodness just in time for the first pitch. The company spent three years and untold R&D resources to come up with the right bag technology–five layers of bonded poly film that vents the moisture out properly—and safely. Got to love progress. Now if they can only make a bag like that for my short ribs.

Photo credit: Estelle Hayes

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  • Danielle

    RBB and B require popcorn for movies. They cannot watch one without it. I’ll have to try this kind. And Tom will have to make B is super special popcorn when we are there ;)

  • Britt

    Why not popcorn on the stovetop?  I haven’t had a microwave for the past few years due to a lack of space and now that I’ve been making it on the stove the bagged stuff just doesn’t taste as good.  Plus it’s so easy to mix in so many flavors

  • Megan browne

    I do mine on the stovetop since we don’t have a microwave and by the sounds of it thank goodnes I have been doing it that way!  Thanks for the enlightenment Tom.  For us popcorn is a good healthy kids snack (without butter which isn’t half as tasty) but a good sprinkle of sea salt crystals and occasionally some brewers yeast for added b vitamins.

  • Torrie @ a place to share…

    oh wow, short ribs & popcorn… this post is right up ryan’s alley.  we are huge popcorn connoisseurs, not the microwave stuff, but my grandma tends to bring “treats” like this to our kids on occasion, and i am quick to let them partake, as it’s much easier to assemble then the good stuff.  …but not after reading this!  thank you for sharing tom!!