I’m an absolute fanatic for potato chips and have been for as long as I can remember. A good friend and I will travel a fair distance to acquire potato chips that can’t be sourced closer to home. The U.S. gets all sorts of great chips that never make it up to Canada and that’s sufficient justification in my mind for a run across the border. That being said, in an attempt to lose a little bit of weight prior to my wedding day, I cut potato chips out of my snacking repertoire for a while. (It worked pretty well, if anyone is curious)
I also have a love for movies and spend a lot of time in my home theatre watching movies from my collection. Needless to say, for me, movies and potato chips go hand in hand and a movie’s enjoyability is reduced without a salty snack. I needed an alternative and I needed one quickly! While I’ve never been an enormous fan of popcorn, compared to potato chips, it seemed the logical choice. The problem for me is the noise and inefficiency of my popcorn popper. The offending appliance is an antiquated hot air popper acquired back in the days when I got my very first apartment. My best friend/roommate and I decided that we’d have to have a popcorn popper in the new apartment, never used it, and I’ve had the thing ever since. It’s noisy, obnoxious, and only pops around 50% of the popcorn kernels. It’s way too much hassle.
This set me out on a quest to find a better popcorn popper. As is generally my way when I buy things, I spent months researching before making my choice. I decided that I had to go back to hot oil-based popcorn popping and the Whirley Pop from Wabash Valley Farms seemed to be the weapon of choice. Reviews across the ‘Net heralded it’s brilliance and it really is quite cheap compared to some other alternatives. It’s so cheap, in fact, that standard shipping if I ordered it online was a significant percentage of the unit’s cost. That wouldn’t do! It took me several more months to locate one locally, as they seem to always be out of stock, but it was worth it!
The unit itself is the epitome of cost effective construction. In the videos on their website, the nice lady from Wabash Valley Farms will tell you that the aluminum is thinner to provide ideal temperatures. I don’t buy it. This thing is cheaply made, pure and simple. They have, however, latched on to just the right blend of cheap construction and reliability. Under normal use, I see no reason that this unit won’t last me a good long time. There is a crank in the handle of the popper that transfers motion to a horizontal arm inside the popper to keep the kernels moving. The gears in there are plastic but certainly constructed well enough to handle the resistance presented by a bit of popcorn. Should you desire something a little heavier like caramel corn or kettle corn, the popper is said to handle it but I would recommend upgrading to the heavier duty “Sweet & Easy Snack Machine” that apparently has steel gears and with it’s crank on the pot’s lid rather than jutting out through the handle.
Needless to say I was pretty excited about testing this baby out after such an exhausting search to get my hands on it. It didn’t disappoint! The kit that I purchased came with several packages of popcorn that included oil and butter seasoning. Simply dump in the kernels followed by the oil/seasoning mixture and you’re away to the races. I have never before had home prepared popcorn that so closely mimicked the taste of movie theatre popcorn. The results were spectacular. I, however, have never been a great fan of movie theatre popcorn and set about finding my own way. I’ve found that Orville Redenbacher popcorn kernels are the ones that pop up the largest and give the best consistency. As an oil, I’ve been using Kernel’s Butter Flavoured Popcorn Topping. As a topping, it tastes exactly like cooking oil but as a popping oil, this stuff is ideal! After popping, I follow that up with butter, salt, and Kernel Seasons Butter Flavoured Popcorn powder (which I also cannot get in Canada and have to make frequent trips to Buffalo for).
At long last I have my own secret recipe…OK it’s not so secret anymore but it’s still really good. I do still miss potato chips and often purchase some for nostalgia’s sake, but popcorn is my ongoing companion for good movie watching!
Here are some links to my products of choice:
(Alas, Kernels no longer sells their butter flavoured oil popcorn topping or their butter flavoured powder)
Wabash Valley Farms Prowl around their site for some great popcorn recipes! Search for Whirley Pop on YouTube for some instructional videos.