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How To Make Popcorn10:53 PM -- Wed August 26, 2009

As a public service announcement, I sometimes like to post about stuff that I came across randomly and then had to spend a long time googling further details on. My theory is that by having this info in more places on the web, it's easier to stumble across it, and someone like me will have less work someday.

You know how movie theater popcorn is goooooooood? There's a secret, but it's not some far-out thing that requires special industrial items. Well, it sorta does, but this item is easy to obtain and very cheap. Buy Flavacol! It's an artificially butter-flavored salt. Don't buy the 50lb tub I just linked to. Go to a restaurant supply store and pick up a $1.50 carton (looks like a milk carton). That carton will last you a lifetime.

Now you ask, where do I find such a store? That's easier than you think too. I got mine at Smart & Final, which is a chain you can find all over the place. There are other such stores, but I'm afraid that is going to take some googling if you don't know of a local one. There is one somewhere reasonably near you, you just have to figure out where it is.

So Flavacol is very light on instructions, what do you do with it? Well, after more googling, I can tell you. Pop your popcorn however you like (obviously not premade microwave bags, though - Alton Brown does have a recipe for making your own microwave popcorn in a paper bag, look it up!), but sprinkle the flavacol on the corn before popping. It takes extremely little: for 1/2 cup of kernels, I find 1/4tsp to be a good amount. There are about 20 trillion of those in the carton, so your $1.50 is going to last.

What this won't get you is bright yellow, super salty, butter-tasting corn. It's actually a rather mild flavor, but it's very good. You can use more Flavacol next time if you want to push it up to the super salty movie theater style. That's extremely tasty, but beware: After further excessive googling, I can tell you that a teaspoon of Flavacool has more than your entire daily allowance of sodium in it (2750mg). That's all it has in it, so it's nice that there's no fat or anything, but it will squeeze your arteries to death.

I'm very happy with this because my popcorn is now much healthier - I used to melt butter onto it (YUM), but with Flavacol rocking, I don't need to, and I most likely put on more sodium worth of salt than I ever did in Flavacol (this stuff I actually measure!). However, if you don't want to be healthy, I'd also like to note that movie theaters use butter-flavored coconut oil to make their corn, another popcorn secret I have learned. So slather on the Flavacol and coconut oil, and then top it all off with artificial yellow oil goo (I love that stuff, I don't care that it's made of the screams of the iniquitous)!

There are Flavacol varieties too, it seems... BB for Better Buttery... one "with Saltwise" (hugely more expensive) which sounds like an answer to the sodium woes, and Premier, which gets rid of the artificial color. And don't forget to check out the pre-made popcorn packs which include the butter-flavored oil, and I think flavacol-sprinkled kernels. There's really a whole world of pro popcorn products, and you can find them online if you don't mind massive shipping charges and equally massive products (need a 35lb bag of coconut oil?). But plain old Flavacol from your local Smart & Final is small, cheap, and easy to get. Give it a chomp.
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