Popcorn is a popular snack associated with the movies, cinema and cosy nights on the sofa watching tv. There is nothing better than having a fresh bowl of popcorn ready to snack on during your film, but store-bought can often leave you feeling unsatisfied.
Popcorn makers are not worth buying if you only eat popcorn a couple of times a month, it would be cheaper to buy store-bought or microwavable. If you find yourself eating popcorn more than twice a week, a popcorn maker is worth buying.
In this article, I am going to be talking about the advantages and disadvantages of owning a popcorn maker, prices of different styles and whether I think a popcorn maker is worth buying.
What Is A Popcorn Maker?
As the name implies, popcorn makers are devices used to prepare popcorn. The device works by explosively expanding the kernels of heated corn that is fed into the device. Popcorn is a well-known snack that is mostly found in cinemas, carnivals, concerts, camping grounds, and movie theatres for people to buy and eat.
People that want to have the ability to readily make popcorn at home or on-the-go opt for popcorn makers. The convenience of making and eating hot creamy popcorn anytime one wants to watch a movie or a show on campgrounds or at home is an incentive to buy a popcorn machine.
Most popcorn poppers need cooking oil to operate. The cooking oil would be added to the popcorn maker before the corn goes in and the “mixture” would be left to heat up. After some time, the corn begins to pop; then they can be served and eaten.
However, some people are conscious about the amount of “unhealthy food” they eat, and thus the cooking oil might make them shy away from eating popcorn. As a remedy, manufacturers have created popcorn poppers that use hot air – without the need for cooking oil – to produce the popcorn.
This method creates a dry kernel that does not do a good job of holding salt but when melted butter is added, it would give the popcorn a softer texture capable of holding on to salt and other seasonings.
There are different shapes and sizes of popcorn makers. Some can be microwave poppers that are as simple as a container with a lid on top; others can be stovetop popcorn makers that have a crank that is fixed to a spindle and blade which facilitates manually stirring of the popcorn while it is being made so heat can be evenly distributed throughout the container.
Can I Use A Popcorn Maker for Anything Else?
While using popcorn makers to prepare some other meal apart from its intended purpose is worth trying, it is not clear whether the poppers effectively cook meals. There has been some indication that hot air popcorn makers can be used to roast coffee outdoors but continuous usage for this purpose would gradually destroy the machine.
Additionally, there is some indication that popcorn makers can be used to prepare puffed rice the same way popcorn is made. The kicker is that one has to get the moisture content of the rice grains to the correct level for the process to be successful.
Getting the moisture content right is the biggest challenge for most people that take this unconventional approach but some suggest that the rice has to be soaked until it has reached some degree of “softness” before being fed into hot air popcorn makers or those that need cooking oil to operate.
Using popcorn machines to prepare other meals can leave the device smelling like food residue, making subsequent popcorn you make taste like the food item you last prepared; and that is the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that the popcorn machine gets damaged and you would need to get it fixed or replaced.
How Much Is A Popcorn Maker?
Preparing popcorn without using the device specifically made for it makes the whole process tricky. A makeshift method would be to put some cooking oil into a pot and pour in the corn kernels; heat the “mixture” until popcorn is formed. It would encourage spills, can make some of the corn kernels burn or stay unpopped.
Popcorn poppers allow people to successfully heat up and stir the popcorn comfortably without fear of spillage. This convenience makes people opt to get this machine so here is a list of recommended popcorn machines and their prices.
1. American Originals Popcorn Maker
The American Originals popcorn popper uses hot air to heat the corn to produce healthy popcorn. The popcorn produced here tastes good but not spectacular but if you want to improve its taste, you can add sugar, salt, or sauce to the corn that has popped.
The popcorn-making process with this device lasts about 3 minutes; after which the popped corn would fly out of it into the container that you have set for collection. This £17 equipment is easy to clean when compared to its old-fashioned alternatives.
2. Smart Retro Kettle Popcorn Maker
This is a fantastic choice for popcorn lovers and is a more serious option than regular home popcorn makers. It has great build quality, a stainless-steel kettle, and a tempered glass window. There is also an inbuilt stirring mechanism that makes sure every batch of popcorn cooks evenly.
This particular device cost £100 and is ideally used commercially.
3. Joseph Joseph M-Cuisine Microwave Popcorn Maker
The Joseph Joseph £16 microwave popcorn maker pops corn in as little as 90 seconds when exposed to heat in the microwave. To use this device, one has to load the maker with corn kernels and place it in the microwave and results would be seen in the expected time. No cooking oil is needed here, so it is ideal for people that want to eat healthily.
In a nutshell, popcorn makers for home use cost around £20 while those used commercially go for £100 and above.
Advantages of A Popcorn Maker
- Access to unlimited snacks.
Owning your popcorn makers allows you to prepare a tasty snack for yourself at any time of the day instead of going to the store to grab some. At times, you pick up popcorn from the store and have to share it with others; but having the maker at home means there would be more than enough for anyone.
- It saves money.
It costs significantly less to own your device and prepare your popcorn at will than it would if you had to buy ready-made popcorn at the grocery store. Although buying the device and the corn kernels is more costly than buying just the snack on one occasion but in the long run, more money would be saved preparing the popcorn oneself.
Disadvantages of A Popcorn Maker
- The feed corn is more expensive than regular corn.
The corn to be fed into the popcorn maker is a special kind that is sealed inside paper bags which is costlier than the normal corn you buy to consume.
- More strain on your energy bill.
Regardless of whether your popcorn maker is electric or needs direct heat from a stove, it would make you expend more energy than you are used to thereby increasing the amount your electric bill will cost at the end of the month.
- Possible health hazard.
There is a belief that hot-air popcorn makers made of plastic might contain Bisphenol-A and could be harmful. However, there is not sufficient evidence to decisively say that this is the case.
Is A Popcorn Maker Worth It?
It would be hard to explain to a popcorn lover or a movie enthusiast why having a popcorn maker on standby for them at all times is not worth it. It would help them save time, money (in the long run), give them what they want in unlimited quantities and be a useful addition to their everyday life.
It would be nice having an inexpensive machine that can produce snacks for you anytime you want.
The cases where you can say that popcorn makers are not worth it is when you know that you would not use it regularly or are not patient to prepare homemade popcorn. You might be better off buying ready-made popcorn from the grocery store.
Also, if you are not interested in having a slightly higher energy bill than usual then you might conclude that popcorn makers are not worth having.