Charles Schulz, the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip, is credited for the saying, “Love is sharing your popcorn.”
Marilyn loves popcorn! It is by far her favorite snack food, and she will often substitute popcorn for a meal. She likes plain popcorn, buttered popcorn, caramel corn, chocolate drizzled popcorn, popcorn balls, kettle corn, popcorn mixed with candy corn or peanuts, and Cracker Jack. She loves popcorn.
We can’t drive past one of those popcorn wagons you see in some small towns. We try to do our banking on Fridays because the bank gives away popcorn on Fridays. If there’s popcorn for sale or to give away, we’ll be there. At the movies, we have to get the big refillable tub of popcorn.
She’d always said she would love to have a bathtub full of popcorn, so for Marilyn’s 40th birthday, I went down to the local movie theater with a 40-gallon plastic trash bag and my friend Tom Morgan, the manager, and filled it to the brim with delicious movie popcorn. Marilyn kept that huge bag of popcorn next to our bed and worked on it for weeks.
Have you ever really thought about what a miracle popcorn is? You have this tiny little compact seed, which has magic in it. You heat it and agitate it and suddenly it bursts open into something that is almost irresistibly desirable. Mark Twain once said, “Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desirable.” So maybe that is why so many people love popcorn — because it’s irresistibly desirable?
There’s a website on the Internet called “HowStuffWorks.com” which explains how stuff works. Pretty cool concept, right? HowStuffWorks says that very few foods act like popcorn does, and it explains that there are three elements that make popcorn work the way it does. They are moisture inside the kernel, starch inside the kernel and the hard shell surrounding the kernel.
When a popcorn kernel heats up (either in a pan, a popcorn popper, or in the microwave), the moisture inside the kernel expands. When the pressure inside the hard shell gets high enough, the kernel explodes. That seems normal enough — many things explode when you heat them.
But what makes popcorn different from most other foods is the white solid stuff that forms during the process. According to the website, “The gelatinized starch granules do not explode, but expand into thin, jelly-like bubbles. Neighboring bubbles fuse together and solidify, forming a three-dimensional network much like a sink full of soapsuds. This is the white fluffy solid we eat.”
Marilyn isn’t the only one who loves the stuff. A lot of people love popcorn, and many have made statements about it or made comparisons to it with other things. Comedian and actor Billy Crystal says: “Humans love sex, we need sex, it’s how we connect, it reminds us we’re alive, it’s the third most basic human need, after food and good movie popcorn.
David Gerrold is an American science fiction screenwriter and novelist known for his script for the popular original Star Trek episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” Gerrold said, “Of course life is bizarre, the more bizarre it gets, the more interesting it is. The only way to approach it is to make yourself some popcorn and enjoy the show.”
There’s probably no one person whose identity is more closely related to popcorn than Orville Redenbacher. After graduating from Purdue University, he became rich running a profitable fertilizer company. He loved popcorn, and in his free time, he focused on creating the perfect popcorn. He sold the kernels from the back of his car and eventually appeared on television promoting his eponymous product.
Redenbacher once said in an interview, “Every once in a while, someone will mail me a single popcorn kernel that didn’t pop. I’ll get out a fresh kernel, tape it to a piece of paper and mail it back to them.” Satisfaction guaranteed, right?
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