When I was a kid, there were two ways I knew to make popcorn, either in a pan of hot oil, or the more fun way, with the use once, all-in-one Jiffy-Pop, with the growing tinfoil lid.
Then this amazing thing came out when I was a teenager, the hot air popcorn popper. All it required was cheap popcorn kernels, and almost no work or cleaning, and so popcorn became a food staple of mine in college. It seemed like everyone had a hot air popcorn popper.
Then, microwave popcorn came to market, and once again, it seemed like everyone forgot all previous methods of creating popcorn. For a decade or two, just about the only made-at-home popcorn I ate came from a microwave. There were even low-fat popcorn packages to make in the microwave, and I assumed this was a healthy enough snack.
But what did I know? Very recently, I came to find out that many people believe microwave popcorn is extremely unhealthy (references 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.). There are indications that harmful compounds in the lining of the bags vaporize and leach into the popcorn (DuPont has agreed to eliminate use of the chemical FPOA by 2015, 5). Many people working at the plants that make the microwaveable popcorn developed a lung condition, which was sometimes fatal.
It seemed easy enough to revert to the 80s, and so I purchased this hot air popcorn popper on Amazon.com for $20. Now making and eating popcorn with my 2-year-old son is an effortless pleasure; he loves to watch the hot air popcorn popping process. I assume it’s as healthy as any empty-calorie snack, in that it has fiber, not many calories, and no real bad stuff (fat, additives, etc.). Hope no one tells me hot air poppers are unhealthy for some reason!