I enjoy unbuttered popcorn as an evening snack – generously sprinkled with Spike seasoning. I just googled “spike” and had to go to page 5 of the search results to find my family’s favourite all purpose seasoning.
We’ve been studying the variability in popcorn efficiency – defined as the percentage of kernels that fully pop into edible morsels, with consideration also to the price in the store. Did the Safeway brand leave more unpopped than the Superstore bulk kernels? I hadn’t been able to draw clear conclusions.
However, recently I saw a “Buy one, get one free” offer for Orville Reddenbacher’s popcorn. I am aware of Orville Redenbacher’s fame as the icon of American popcorn. I don’t remember him from my childhood, perhaps because (a) I didn’t spend my childhood in the US and (b) Orville didn’t launch his first line of popcorn until 1969.
His popcocrn costs TWICE as much as the house brands, so I never bought it until I saw this amazing offer. [Not that an occasional splurge in high-end popcorn would break our bank.] So finally, I came home with two jars of brand-name popcorn, ready to test in our hot air popcorn maker that is about as old as our marriage – 30 years.
The result?! Do you remember the classic I Love Lucy episode when Lucy and Ethel were on the chocolate wrapping conveyor line? You will reveal your age with the answer to that question. In case you don’t remember, you must check it out here.
Orville’s popcorn pops like crazy. It is positively violent. I am like Lucy trying to grab unpopped kernels to put them back in the popper, and popped ones that are bouncing around the counter. Kernels leap out of the popper, hit ground in the bowl of popped stuff, and explode in fury, sending several other popped kernels into the air like flying billiard balls. I normally wear glasses anyway, but my husband get out his protective lenses when he is making Orville popcorn. Popped and unpopped kernels flying around the kitchen. It is quite a mess but very exciting.
I sprinkle Spike all over and take it off to my computer desk to eat while I blog. At the bottom of the bowl, I check how many unpopped kernels are waiting. For Orville’ popcorn, I regret to inform that about 30% (YES – ALMOST ONE-THIRD) are unpopped.
My conclusion… Orville Reddenbacher popcorn costs twice as much and produces 30% less. It tastes the same. I will do the math for you: Orville Reddenbacher’s popcorn ends up costing 3 times as much as house brand, but it gives a very good show if your life is short (desperately so) in the excitement area.
Could be that we would do better with a new popper. However, until I need and get a new one, we’ll stick with the house brands of popcorn.