Thread Number: 77971  /  Tag: Recipes, Cooking Accessories
Popcorn Lovers: A Question
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Post# 1019853   1/2/2019 at 18:49 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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I'd like opinions on the best brand of popcorn for home popping in a vintage rig that uses oil, not air or a magnetron (see picture).


I recently found a recipe for popcorn seasoning that I thought I'd try, and while at Trader Joe's came across a package of organic kernels.  I tried it yesterday and it was the worst, most rubbery, burnt mess I've ever had from a home popper.  It's not the popper's fault.  I've made enjoyable batches with it before.


Is there any brand that stands out, or are their brands besides TJ's that should be avoided?


I liked the seasoning in spite of what it was sprinkled over, so want to try again with a higher quality product.


TIA for any suggestions.

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Post# 1019856 , Reply# 1   1/2/2019 at 19:14 by StrongEnough78 (California)        

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Orville Redenbacher was always a good brand. They still sell loose kernels.

Post# 1019858 , Reply# 2   1/2/2019 at 19:18 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        
Whirley Pop

This is the absolute best popcorn I've ever had!


Post# 1019860 , Reply# 3   1/2/2019 at 19:23 by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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I like Pop Secret. Every kernal pops up fluffy. But part of your problem Ralph is the popper. I have owned two of these in the past, and that heavy glass bowl seals the edge of the popper and no steam can escape while the corn is popping, and captured steam in the popper will result in some of the popped kernals being soggy/rubbery. Sorry to tell you this, because that does look like very nicely preseved vintage popcorn popper.

After owning many popcorn poppers, each of which left something to be desired, I went back to using a heavy bottomed pan on the stove top, leaving the top off while a single layer of popcorn heats in the oil over high heat. As soon as the first kernal pops, I put the lid on turn the heat down to med and begin shaking the pan while lifting the lid slightly a couple of times. As soon as it popping vigorously, I turn the heat off,and as soon as the popping stops, quickly pour the popcorn into a serving bowl.


Post# 1019862 , Reply# 4   1/2/2019 at 19:26 by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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Orville Redenbacher has been about the best for popping corn, whether in a standard popper, on a stove or in a microwave....

his hybrid corn was designed to taste the best...rare to find a kernel unpopped..…


Jolly Time was one of the few available before that way back in the 70's, and maybe further.....but you can note how many kernels are not popped...


OMG....Jiffy Pop is still available....great for camp fires...


I think the best popper I use is by West Bend....I had to pull it out to look....'Stir Crazy' has a stirring rod in the bottom, and of course the lid becomes the bowl.....

now you got me craving to pop a batch....

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Post# 1019865 , Reply# 5   1/2/2019 at 19:30 by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

That popper has a storing mechanism correct? If so:

1/2 cup Orville Redenbacher popcorn + 4 Tablespoons coconut oil + 1 or 2 Tablespoons of Flavacol = movie theater popcorn, literally.

Original Flavacol is available from Amazon. Cannot vouch for other brands or formulations. The original is the “bomb”. Do not sprinkle on popped corn, mix with oil only.

Post# 1019866 , Reply# 6   1/2/2019 at 19:31 by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

“Stirring” mechanism, not “storing”.

Post# 1019867 , Reply# 7   1/2/2019 at 19:37 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        
Thanks for the feedback

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You know Eddie, the popper's instructions have a separate sheet that likely was added after customer complaints.  On it, they acknowledge the condensation issue, stating that it's part of the popping process and shouldn't be a cause for concern.  I noticed a lot more condensation than usual with the TJ's stuff, but I'm thinking cool indoor temps might also be a factor (during the day the heat doesn't kick in unless it's below 67), plus I hauled the thing up from the basement where it was even colder.


I do like this popper's spacey look, and it was a gift from another member here.  As stated in my OP, I've had satisfactory results with it in the past using O.R.'s kernels.  I'll give it a shot with better product and see what happens.   If it's still disappointing, I think I'll just go back to blanching almonds instead.


After moving and purging several months ago, I'm no longer averse to passing along vintage gadgetry that renders unsatisfactory results. 

Post# 1019869 , Reply# 8   1/2/2019 at 19:55 by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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We use Orville Redenbacher (35# bags), coconut oil with butter (flavor?) added (50# drums), and Flavacol.  Done in a 34+yo Cretors President.

Post# 1019874 , Reply# 9   1/2/2019 at 20:24 by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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I tried to microwave popcorn in my 1977 Whirlpool M/W in a pyrex bowl, long before you could buy M/W popcorn or learn how to and it did not pop anything and busted the pyrex bowl in the M/W, so I dont like popcorn much any more. Unless its made for me with lots of butter and salt.

Post# 1019875 , Reply# 10   1/2/2019 at 20:30 by gansky1 (Omaha, The Home of the TV Dinner!)        

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I bought popcorn at the local orchard this fall and it was literally some of the best I've ever had. So soft and light and the perfect butterfly shape. I bought a couple of bags of it, but am nearly out again. I may find some time to take a drive out to buy some more, it's always worth the effort. Some years are good but this year was great for popcorn, lots of rain and fairly cool temps in the late summer make for some sweet and fluffy popcorn. I make 3-4 batches a week, always on the stovetop in a Whirlypop popper.

You can also buy it on the cob, the way we used to have it when I was a kid. My grandfather grew it in his garden so it was a little more work, but again, worth the effort.

The only store-bought popcorn I will buy is Orville's in the jar. Wal-Mart and Menards stores are the cheapest I've found.


Post# 1019878 , Reply# 11   1/2/2019 at 20:36 by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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The older Stir Crazy is a good popcorn maker. We had a couple of those when I was growing up, and I had one later on. They worked well.

I remember reading an article about popcorn. It indicated many (maybe almost all?) electric popcorn poppers didn't work very well. One exception--and a popper that was an industry reference--was the Stir Crazy.

I've heard, unfortunately, that quality dropped unacceptably when they started making this popper in China.

Post# 1019883 , Reply# 12   1/2/2019 at 20:52 by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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I always used to buy Jolly Time, the red can and it used to be the best you could buy. But now, I haven’t seen it anywhere for a while. I used Orville Redenbachers for a long time. But, it was sometimes not the best. In fact,once a jar was for terrible, hardly any of it popped, and what did was only partially popped. So I called their customer service, and they took the numbers from the jar, and she told me that they had recently had a few bad batches, and she sent me several coupons, that far exceeded the purchase price.

Well, about 3 years ago, the store was out of Orville’s, so I bought the Pop Secret, and was very pleasantly surprised! Much better than the Orville’s, so that’s all I buy now. When I pop it on the stove, the lid of the pot lifts up about 2” when the popping stops. And its so good, we just sprinkle a little salt on it, no butter, doesn’t need it.

That being said, the best electric popper I ever had was a West Bend Stir Crazy. It’s the holes in the top that make it the best, because the steam has somewhere to escape, and the popcorn has a chance to not get soggy, if you leave the detachable plastic lid for the top of the bowl off when popping. The holes are meant for the placement of pats of butter to melt and drip through on to the popping corn. I never used it that way. The only problem I had with it was that I couldn’t submerge it to wash it, and after a while, even though I always wiped out with an damp wash cloth, it began to get a rancid odor. That’s why I went back to the old fashioned pan on the stove method. I do think the popcorn comes out better, and seems in the end less work and clean up.


Post# 1019889 , Reply# 13   1/2/2019 at 21:12 by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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The last I knew, Jolly Time was still around in my area. It worked well enough for me, I think--I don't recall anything to suggest otherwise--and one thing I liked was they had an organic version that was reasonably priced. Meanwhile, I don't recall ever seeing Pop Secret at my usual store, apart, IIRC, from microwave versions. I think I might have bought some, once, at Target, but can't say for sure.

I also found the Kroger store brand worked well enough for me.

Do note my observations reflect experiences of years back, so they may or may not be current. I haven't made popcorn in recent years. I no longer have a good electric popper, and I'm not sure how well "stove top" would work since I don't have a real stove (the joys of having a White Trash Budget!), just a low power electric hot plate.

I remember my father would get jars of Orville Redenbacher for gifts (real glass jars, too!), which he'd use, but he always felt, I think, that it wasn't worth the price. The glass jars, however, were handy for storing the contents of store brand bags of popcorn. LOL

Post# 1019894 , Reply# 14   1/2/2019 at 21:39 by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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>That’s why I went back to the old fashioned pan on the stove method. I do think the popcorn comes out better, and seems in the end less work and clean up.

I've heard many say stove top is the best, period.

And there is something to be said for the simplicity of just using a regular pot on the stove. If nothing else, a popcorn popper is yet another thing to buy and store.

I've personally had mixed results with stove top popping. It seemed to work OK years and years back--at least I can't remember otherwise. But I couldn't get stove top popcorn to work so well when I tried again (in the last 10 years or so). Although it's very likely I was doing something wrong.

Post# 1019936 , Reply# 15   1/3/2019 at 04:46 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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I've always wanted one of those WhirlyPops, but I don't eat popcorn enough to justify it.  I'll buy the smallest packs of microwave popcorn and end up throwing most of it out as I just don't eat it much.  But when I have a craving I want it.  Eating popcorn is the only time I like Pepsi or Coke...the rest of  the time I think they taste like PineSol.  My MIL goes through boxes and boxes of microwave popcorn.  She likes the walmart GV brand.  We actually stuck 4 big boxes in with her Christmas stuff!

Post# 1019971 , Reply# 16   1/3/2019 at 11:55 by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

I eat popcorn infrequently, a 2lb. bag will last me a year.  I am about to toss out a bag I bought a couple of months ago.  I decided to try white popcorn, it's some of the worst popcorn I've had.  Small and tough.  Back to yellow,  either Jolly Time or Pop Secret, but most likely Meijer brand.


I alternate between an air popper - I know most hate them  - or the Theater style stove top popper.  I like the stove top unit, but hate cleaning it.  If it was made out of something remotely dishwasher friendly I'd be OK, but aluminum and wood are not friends with a dishwasher...

Post# 1019975 , Reply# 17   1/3/2019 at 12:28 by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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More good information.  Thanks!


Popcorn isn't a regular thing in our household, and when we do have it, the microwave stuff is easiest.  I only brought the Penncrest popper up from the basement because I wanted to try the seasoning mentioned in the OP.  I thought it was decent.  Here's the recipe if anyone else feels so inclined (I also added some butter flavored "Kernel Season's" powder to it):


7 tbsp kosher salt

1 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp white truffle salt (yeah, right -- I used more plain salt and bailed on the extra 1/2 tsp)

2 tbsp plus 1-1/2 tsp powdered Parmesan (I had to go buy a jar of this because I don't normally use it)

1-1/2 tsp dried powdered sage


Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.  Sprinkle onto popcorn immediately, or store in a small jar to use later.

Post# 1019993 , Reply# 18   1/3/2019 at 16:21 by twintubdexter (Palm Springs)        

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When I was a little kid, I convinced my mom to use a couple of books of Blue Chip Stamps and get a small Mirro Matic popper. It was simple and worked great. Mrs. Lamar, the lady across the street, had a full-proof method for popping corn. First of all, you keep the corn in the refrigerator. She said it popped better...and why not? You add the recommended oil to the popper along with three kernels and heat it up. After the kernels pop you add your corn. 


I have one of those stirring poppers but I like this little Handyhot popper. The instruction book calls the standard recipe "Popcorn for Munching".  Mrs. Lamar's technique works just great.

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Post# 1019994 , Reply# 19   1/3/2019 at 16:22 by wiskybill (Canton, Ohio)        
I like popcorn!

I use one of these whenever I make popcorn.

left- Knapp Monarch

center- West Bend

right- Presto Power Pop

I like the Orville Redenbacher's popcorn and oil and you can use the oil
in the Power Pop.

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Post# 1019995 , Reply# 20   1/3/2019 at 16:27 by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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>I decided to try white popcorn, it's some of the worst popcorn I've had. Small and tough. Back to yellow, either Jolly Time or Pop Secret, but most likely Meijer brand.

It might be the particular brand of white popcorn, or just that particular bag... I'm pretty sure I've bought white plenty of times, and I can't remember any problems. Although, of course, "YMMV" and all that...

I assume Meijer brand is a store brand. Much of the time, that was what I'd buy. A Kroger store brand seemed to work quite well for me (at least 5-10 years ago, when I was still buying popcorn regularly). I did start buying one Jolly Time variety regularly...but only because it was organic.

>I alternate between an air popper - I know most hate them

I'm not a fan, but I've used these. They certainly are more convenient than a popper that needs hand washing! From my memories, while I think oil popped (stove or electric popper) is better, I like air popped better than microwaved.

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