Popcorn maker – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A popcorn maker (also called a popcorn popper) is a machine used to pop popcorn. Since ancient times popcorn has been a popular snack food, produced through the explosive expansion of kernels of heated corn (maize). Commercial large-scale popcorn machines were invented by Charles Cretors in the late 19th century. Many types of small-scale home methods for popping corn also exist.
Commercial popcorn machines are commonly found in movie theaters and carnivals, producing popcorn in a pan of hot oil, which has approximately 45% of its calories derived from fat. Hot air popcorn poppers appeared for home use in the late 1970s, which produce popcorn with only 5% of its calories derived from fat. The majority of popcorn sold for home consumption is now packaged in a microwave popcorn bag for use in a microwave oven.
The original method used to pop corn was to hold and shake a wire basket filled with raw corn kernels over an open flame or fire. The result was a hot, dry, unevenly cooked and often burned snack. The Cretors machine automatically popped corn in a mixture of lard, oil, and salt. The result was a machine that popped corn in its own seasoning – uniformly for the first time.
Specialised popcorn pots have been marketed under various brand names, including Whirley Pop, Theater II and Sweet & Easy; all of them are basically a pot that has an integrated stirring blade operated by turning a crank. This is to prevent burning of the kernels on the bottom.
In 1978 Presto introduced the Popcorn Pumper, a popper for consumer use in the home, which used hot air blown up through the kernels. By cooking without oil, it reduced the calories and fat in the finished product. It was also faster and easier than pan-fry popping.
Home popcorn makers are also available which consist of a heated circular tray with a powered stirring arm, into which corn and oil can be placed, with a dome-shaped cover which often doubles as a serving bowl.
In the mid-1970s Pillsbury made microwave popcorn for sale in vending machines (and later to wide distribution in supermarkets, as microwave oven sales increased), thus reducing the need for a separate appliance in some homes; however up to 60% of the calories of this type of popcorn are derived from fat (lower fat versions are available). Many people today choose to microwave popcorn using their own bags. Popcorn can be placed in any paper bag, which is then folded and put in a microwave for several minutes depending on the wattage power of the microwave.