Whatever the Name, the End Result Is Popcorn

Many of us probably grew up popping popcorn on the stove in a heavy kettle. You had to keep it moving in order to keep it from burning. Oil or shortening was put in the pan, popcorn added, a lid put on to keep the popcorn in the pan, and the cooking process began. Someone stood at the stove with hotpads, shaking the pot across the burner to keep the popcorn kernels in motion so they wouldn't burn. When the popping sound stopped, the popcorn was poured into a large bowl, butter added, and it was ready to eat. Seem like a lot of work? Perhaps it was, compared to today's methods. But I still remember that as some of the best-tasting popcorn I had ever eaten. Today we have automated the process to such a degree that you can have fresh hot popcorn quickly, and without much effort. We even have microwave popcorn available, for even less work than with a popper. This article will give you information about the different types of popcorn makers available, from basic small poppers to the larger, commercial sized ones that are now available for home use. We'll cover styles, makes and models and prices too. Read on!

What's Available For Popping Popcorn

No longer is it necessary to stand over the stove moving a pan full of popcorn around to get delicious tasting popcorn. There are a variety of popcorn makers that will do the job for us, with little or no effort on our part. Prices range from less than $20 for air poppers, on up into the thousands if you want a large, commercial sized popcorn maker. Here's a sampling of what's available:

Hot Air Popcorn Poppers

These popcorn makers are usually lower priced than the other types of makers, runnng in price from about $18 to $40. They use hot air to pop the corn rather than oils, and are considered healthier for you than popcorn popped in oils. Lower in calories due to no extra oils, you can season popcorn with special popcorn seasonings and still have great tasting popcorn. Here are a few examples:

Presto 04820 Poplite Popcorn Maker and 04821 Orville Redenbacher's Popcorn Maker
Both models Pop regular or gourmet flavored popcorn. You can pop up to 18 cups of popcorn in this popper in less than 2 1/2 minutes. It features a 1440 watt motor for popping power, a butter melter which sits on top of the maker and melts the butter as you pop the popcorn. Price ranges from $18 to $40. These two are the best of the smaller, inexpensive air poppers.
Gold Medal 2404 Funpop Popcorn Maker
This is quite a price jump from the smaller models listed above, but if you are looking for a small, commercial-grade popcorn popper, this one may be for you. Prices range from $290 to $356. This is the smallest commercial-grade popper and the only one engineered by a company who makes large popcorn makers and theater models. Features a 4 oz. stainless steel kettle and 3-minute popping cycyle. Looks like a smaller version of what you see at fairs, banks, and movie theaters.
Paragon FireGL X3-256
First commercial popcorn maker to manufacture a model for home use. Prices range from $374 to just under $700. Kettle capacity is 4 ounces, and can pop 4 ounces in 3 minutes. Holding capacity is 36 servings, and its small size doesn't take up a whole lot of counter space. Perfect for your family room, home theater, small business lobby or break room.

Hot Oil Popcorn Poppers

West Bend's 82306 StirCrazy Popcorn maker
Prices range from $30 to $45; features a motorized stirring rod to stir the kernals and produce more yield than other models. The cover flips to become a serving bowl. Has a 24 cup capacity. Got good reviews from users.
Nostalgia Electrics KPM-508 Popcorn Maker
Spend a little more money ($72 to $105) for a commercial-type oil popcorn popper. Modeled after the kind you see in movie theaters.
Paragon 1911-6 Antique Popcorn Maker
Looks like the ones used by American street vendors nearly 100 years ago, if you are a fan of nostalgia and have the money, one of these can be yours for $348-508. Has a 6 ounce capacity and 1200 watts of power.
Gaiam Old-Fashioned Popcorn Popper
For nostalgia's sake and about $50, you can buy an old-fashioned popcorn popper that uses your stove to make your popcorn, just like you may done as a child. Only this model has bene improved to include a crank handle that you turn to keep the kernals moving, instead of shaking it across the burner. This is an oil popper, too. A little bit of work but great tasting popcorn.

A Word About Popcorn

It used to be that there was only one type of popcorn, but over the years many gourmet flavors have been developed. Additionally, recipes have been developed for even more taste treat choices. Caramel corn was probably one of the first variations, followed by cheesy popcorn and kettle corn. Now there are more flavors of popcorn than ever before. The Popcorn Palace sells 27 flavors of gourmet popcorn, including candied popcorn, seasoned popcorn, and popcorn with a variety of nuts. If you want to make your own gourmet popcorn, online sites such as Popcorn.com will give you recipes for many varietys, including caramel corn, cheesy popcorn, apple popcorn brittle, double chocolate popcorn balls, and more. Whatever your taste preferences, there's bound to be a popcorn flavor for you, and a recipe to match.

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