You would be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn't associate the cinema with popcorn. It doesn't matter if you're watching a film at the local cinema or at home, having a handful of the sweet or salty treat is always the perfect complement.
If you are looking for an easy way to savour popcorn in the comfort of your home, microwave popcorn is the simpl¬¬est option, though many prefer freshly-popped kernels on the stovetop. For years, I used my Samsung microwave oven and its popcorn preset button, which produced near-perfect microwave-popcorn all the time. As the magnetron grew old, however, the machine started to go.
Since then, I haven't had decent homemade popcorn. No other microwave ovens, air-pop, or even skillet-based popping machines do the job to my liking. The closest I came was with a model from Cuisinart that sells for about $130, but the plastic walls emit the typical heated plastic smell, and it has become increasingly more difficult to clean as time goes by.
After asking around via social media, a follower recommended the Nostalgia CCP510 Old Fashioned Movie Time professional popcorn maker. Selling for $442 on Amazon.ca, it's not cheap, but if you're a picky popcorn enthusiast like me, or have a dedicated home theatre where you frequently host guests for movie nights, it might be a worthwhile investment.
The unit comes with its own metal stand with a utility door for storing popcorn accessories including the popcorn scooper and measuring cup that were included with the machine.
A "little" assembly was presumably required. All the parts were received without any damage and the unit comes with all the nuts and bolts plus all the tools needed to assemble it, all of which were packed nicely in a blister pack. Glancing at the instructions, it looked easy.
Looks, however, can be deceiving. When I tried to read further, only then did I realize that details in the pictures are non-existent. The drawings are far too small and the print quality of the manual is so bad that I ended up using the manual only as a general guideline and my own logic for the rest. About 40 minutes later, the machine was ready for its maiden voyage.
As for the popcorn itself? I've tried so many different combinations of oils and kernels I lost track how much I've wasted in time, money, and food materials. At the end of the day, I gave up and just bought a case of Bull's Eye pre-measured popcorn packages. Each package comes with the kernels, a hint of Flavacol popcorn salt seasoning, and lightly flavoured coconut oil. Now, it was time to cook!
Pre-heat the machine for five minutes and put all the ingredients in at once. The motorized stirring rod spins slowly inside the popper. It eliminates the possibility of popcorn burning and stirs un-popped kernels automatically so that you don't have to do it manually. Once the popping sound stops (usually after about three minutes), switch the machine off and off you go to enjoy theatre-like popcorn in your home theatre.
To make it even better, I threw in a third stick of butter with the coconut oil to add a extra buttery aroma into the mix. To paraphrase my favourite celebrity chef Julia Child, butter makes everything better!
Microwave or skillet popcorn might be fine for the everyday user. But if you have a dedicated home theatre, a popcorn machine is a unique items that can add a bit of extra fun to the space, giving it that cinema feel. The cinema experience isn't just about great audio, video, and comfort, but also peripheral factors like ambiance, tasty snacks, and a feeling of nostalgia, too.