Popping Up

popping.corn1 Are you a snacker? I certainly am. If I'm busy working, I can go for hours without eating. Sometimes I forget about meals entirely (rare). But if I'm just hanging around the boat reading or putzing, I'm noshing constantly. If cookies are close, they're crumby history. With a New Year's resolution to eat less junk food, it's important to find and stock a reasonable alternative. Trying to eat healthier on the boat is sometimes difficult if we can't get to a store for freshies. Popcorn seems to fit the bill. That and the fact that it's cheaper and easier to stow than most any other snack, makes popcorn a regular snack item on the boat.


Away from the marina, there's no microwave oven unless we start the generator or the engine and that won't happen...not for popcorn anyway. Not to mention microwave popcorn is very expensive here comparatively speaking. We don't own any other electrical appliances, so a hot-air popper, the healthiest preparation method, is not an option. Nope, I heat a little oil in the bottom of a saucepan, pour in the popcorn. It starts sizzling and exploding and voila...fresh popcorn. Evidently it's the moisture in the corn kernels which gets pressurized and then explodes when it's heated in oil. No matter. It smells heavenly when it's popping and it's not unusual for a passing sailor or two to stop by to check it out and sample the fruits of my labor.

I remember popping corn as a kid. We'd make sticky sweet popcorn balls with corn syrup for Hallowe'en treats and string popcorn and cranberries to decorate the Christmas tree. When a new JiffyPop product was introduced, my sister and I fought over who could jiggle the disposable aluminum popper over the burner. We watched with delight as the crinkled foil expanded and expanded until we thought it would burst. Who cared about the popcorn? It was the whole, fascinating experience.

Popcorn has been around for millennia, originating from Central America. The Native Americans knew all about it. In fact, archaeologists found evidence of popcorn in New Mexico dating to 3600 BC. The English who arrived in America in the 17th century learned about its value from the indigenous people. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, popcorn became popular because it was so cheap and available. During the war years that followed, sugar was rationed and candy was rare, hence popcorn saved the day. Popcorn is the “official” snack food of Illinois. Really?


There's a whole website devoted to corny facts on line which I found quite interesting like:

  • October is National Popcorn Month and there's actually a National Popcorn Day coming up soon … January 19th
  • Popcorn can pop up to three feet in the air
  • The world's largest popcorn ball weighed in at over 2.5 tons in Sac City, IA in February 2009.
  • Popcorn comes in two primary shapes: snowflake and mushroom
  • And the most incredible tidbit of all...if you made a trail of popcorn from New York City to Los Angeles, you would need more than 352,028,160 popped kernels! (Who the heck figured that out and were they snowflake or mushroom shaped?)

When we were back in the States recently, we noted there are lots of different flavors now: caramel, cheese, kettle corn, light butter, heavy butter, no butter. We're purists … no flavors, no butter, thank you; but sprinkle a little salt on the batch, would you?

Anyone got any ideas for other low fat snacks that are easily obtainable and might be stowed on a boat? I'd appreciate hearing about them.


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