This post was originally published on May 5, 2015 and updated on March 31, 2020.
A movie night at home isn’t complete without a big bowl of buttery popcorn. How we make this salty snack may have changed from one generation to the next, but we’ve never lost our taste for this whole-grain, high-fiber treat. From the cast iron pot to the electric air popper to the game-changing microwave popcorn bags, popcorn crunchers have tried them all over the years. Now we’re learning that grandma had it right all along: The best popcorn is popped on the stove. Only now, savvy popcorn enthusiasts are bringing it up a notch by popping heirloom seeds in rich Malaysian sustainable palm oil.
Generations ago, popcorn was routinely made on the stove with a heavy-bottomed pan, using whatever oil was on hand. This could have been anything from leftover bacon grease to corn oil. Nearly every American home had a bag of seeds in the cupboard.
Fun fact: Three cups of popcorn contain as much fiber as a half cup of sliced carrots or one medium peach.
By the 1980s, we were fascinated with anything made for our most time-saving kitchen appliance: the microwave. We were microwaving popcorn while listening to Michael Jackson and trying to decipher Rubik’s Cubes. At first, microwave popcorn had to be kept in the freezer. Then it really made it big in 1984 when food chemists learned how to make its oils shelf stable. Turns out, those shelf-stable oils were trans fats. We now know the health risks associated with this faux fat, although many microwave popcorn brands still contain them.
Fun fact: Each year we eat about 13 billion quarts of popcorn, or about 41 quarts per person.
The fat-free food craze of the 1990s led to the questionable popularity of the hot air popcorn popper, which had actually been conceived in an engineer’s basement in the late 70s. At this time, many fats we now consider healthy – butter, tropical oils and avocados — were being demonized for their saturated fat content. We know today that saturated fat is not associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke or diabetes. So in other words, we suffered through that dry, tasteless popcorn for no good reason.
Fun fact: Air-popped popcorn contains 30 calories per cup. Oil-popped popcorn has 35 calories per cup.
Today’s health-conscious consumers know that natural and sustainable foods are best. That’s why we’re back to popping corn on the stove. Instead of bargain seeds, organic heirloom seeds are all the rage. Dozens of varieties are now available, each with their own flavor profile. Malaysian sustainable palm oil is an ideal natural oil to use for popping this gourmet corn. Its orange color imparts a festive color to the popped kernel
Download our popcorn recipe here:
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