Sunday, 5 February 2017

Popcorn: The Trials and Tribulations

by Michaela Clancy

Once again I have decided to write about a slightly odd topic. I could attempt to try and make this article sound intelligent and science-y. To say that I had spent hours and hours pondering upon the topic to write but in all reality that would be a lie… To tell the truth, I was sat at my computer with a blank word document before me appearing like a white abyss of towering thoughts, all of which was the normal ramble of the mind but nothing seemed good enough to write about. Then it came to me  -as I put another piece of popcorn into my mouth.

This Sunday was the first time I made homemade popcorn. As I proudly told my mum and also a couple of friends, the replies I received were not ones of congratulations (that may be a bit overboard) but enquiring what flavour I had made (I had made sweet). Then the article title dawned on me: the trials and tribulations of popcorn. Below, I have listed some common and not so common issues with the food that we have grown to know and love (maybe you’ll relate to some):



1)      The dreaded kernel:  Yes, we all know that feeling when a perfectly normal piece of popcorn turns out to be like Satan incarnate. That moment when you bite and the shooting pain travels through your jaw, making you want to scream as you realise that you have just bitten upon an un-popped kernel. How could it? You love popcorn, and all it can give you in return is its un-popped comrades. It’s a cruel journey to take in order to eat popcorn but we get over it and in a few seconds are back to munching the rest silently hoping not to find another.

2)       That little piece that always sticks into your teeth: Once again, I’m sure everyone can relate. You can never eat popcorn without this dilemma and if you have, you are defying the laws of popcorn eating. You can spend hours distorting your face into all sorts of weird positions as you attempt to ‘discreetly’ dislodge the discomfort. Alas, the relief you feel when it is gone is yet to be beaten as you find what it is like to have dental comfort again.

3)      The prices in cinemas:  When I go to the cinema the price of popcorn makes me want to weep. However, you can bring your own food. Yes, I know technically it’s not allowed but one time my tactic did receive some questionable looks to say the least. As my friends and I settled for the start of the film I unveiled my secret item….a lettuce. Just as crunchy as popcorn (and no kernels to accidently break your teeth on), even if a little weird. I gathered the cinema couldn’t get annoyed with me for having the lettuce as they don’t sell them. (In case you’re wondering, I ate the whole thing)


4)      Harmful?: There has been evidence suggesting that a chemical called Diacetyl could be harmful for our lungs when inhaled. Diacetyl is what is used in microwave butter popcorn to give it that delicious smell but it has been shown to possibly contribute to ‘popcorn lung’, an inflammatory of the bronchioles. However, this only affects regular popcorn scent inhalers (such as factory workers), so fear not, it is unlikely to harm you seriously if you only have microwave popcorn every now and then.


These are all relatively minor issues for common popcorn eaters, and some cases can add even more fun to the experience of eating it, which is why we all persist in consuming more of the favoured corn. 

Maybe when you have some time, have a go at making your own. I can guarantee that it will taste 10 times better than the ready-made popcorn (providing you don’t burn the butter) and may even inspire you to write an article about it.

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