Sacha Walters, Staff Reporter
Buttered popcorn is a common choice for popcorn lovers. - photo by Latoya Grindley
Despite its nagging tendency to get stuck between your teeth, very few people can resist munching on a handful of popcorn.
It's an uncomplicated snack which many just take at face value. But there is a lot of depth to the kernels.
Popcorn lovers can jazz up the traditional snack with a little more than just butter. Think sugar, spice, cheese or even some pepper.
Don't limit the kernels to a one-dimensional world; mix them in with nuts, raisins and other dried fruit. It will be ideal for having friends over or when you're sitting in front of the TV for your favourite show.
Munching on the crunchy snack is usually associated with watching a movie, a tradition that started in American movie theatres during the Great Depression. Initially, movie theatre owners did not want the snack inside their theatres because of the mess patrons caused. Patrons would purchase the affordable snack from street-side popcorn vendors during breaks and take it inside.
The movie tradition
In 1925 when Charles Manley perfected the first electric popcorn machine, this helped popcorn work for theatre owners. It is said that some owners even reduced the price of movie tickets when they installed their popcorn machines and saw their profits increase because of the sale of the snack.
But the preparation of the snack has long evolved, especially with the introduction of microwaveable popcorn which took the treat from the pot to the microwave oven. But even if a microwave isn't on hand, all you need is a frying pan with a cover, some oil and popcorn.
Without any additions, popcorn is a very healthy snack, rich in fibre. Four cups of popcorn has 92 calories if popped with hot air. It has protein and traces of vitamins and minerals.
This Super Bowl Sunday, February 7, try some jazzed up popcorn today. Here are three recipes to get you started.
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
18 cups popped corn
1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, syrup, vinegar and salt.
2. Cook over high heat until mixture reaches 255F (hard-ball stage) on a candy thermometer.
3. Stir in vanilla.
4. Pour over popped corn, tossing gently to coat.
5. When mixture is cool enough to handle, press popcorn into 3-inch balls with lightly greased hands.
6. Cool completely on waxed paper.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup popping corn kernels
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Heat oil in deep pot over medium high heat. Add corn. Cover pot and pop the corn, shaking pan often.
2. Remove from heat.
3. Drizzle with melted butter.
4. Combine spices in a small dish and sprinkle the blend over hot corn.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, 3 turns of the pan
1/2 cup popping corn
4 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, cracked away from skin
1 cup Parmesan
Salt and black pepper
1. Place oil in a heavy pot with lid and heat over medium high heat.
2. Add corn and pop, shaking the pan until popping slows to two or three seconds between pops.
3. Melt butter with garlic in microwave 15 seconds on high.
4. Discard garlic clove.
5. Pour butter over corn and add cheese to corn.
6. Turn to coat.
7. Season corn with salt and black pepper to taste.
Recipes taken from foodnetwork.com
Additional information on the history of popcorn taken from: http://www.associatedcontent.com