bolt popcorn

When we were stateside, one of our favored family traditions was Sunday popcorn and movie movie. We’d get a movie from Redbox or Netflix, and late Sunday afternoon, I’d commence with the popcorn making. Using my trusty whirley pop (bought in excellent condition for four dollars from a thrift store in Pennsylvania), I’d spend about half an hour cranking out batch after batch of popcorn—six in total, which is the equivalent of three cups of popcorn kernels. One batch was left salted and buttered, two batches were salted, buttered, and cheesed (with nutritional yeast), and three batches were salted, buttered, sugared, and spiced. Then we’d pile onto the sofa and my husband would tentatively bounce up and down and say, “This sofa is going to break one of these days,” and “we won’t be able to all fit on this much longer,” and then we’d start the movie and eat popcorn and apples till we bloated.

I contemplated bringing my whirley popper. I did, really. But then I thought, Nah, we’ll make do with kettles like they used to do in the olden days (like, back when I was a kid).

And that’s how it came to be that I’ve scorched batch after batch of popcorn here. I tried large, lightweight kettles and super-duper heavy-bottomed kettles and little teensy-tiny kettles. I tried stirring the popcorn until it started popping and then clapping the lid on and shaking wildly. I tried leaving the kernels to go about the business of exploding themselves undisturbed. I tried adding extra oil. I tried blue popcorn we brought from the States and regular yellow popcorn from here. Nothing worked.

And then I experimented with my big, flat metal pan—success! True, it was so shallow that I could hardly pop any popcorn in it at a time, and true I had to shake it so hard my butt about fell off, but we were eating popcorn!

One night my husband, sick of watching my butt almost fall off, I guess, scrubbed a couple nails and added them to the pan of oily kernels. In the shaking process, the nails rolled all over the pan, stirring up the kernels just like my whirley popper. I didn’t have to wiggle my butt nearly so hard. The next time, he upgraded from the lightweight nails to some heavy bolts.

And so now, every movie night, I take the bolts out of the mug where they’re stored with our few precious twisties and rubberbands, plunk them into the pan of oil and kernels, and shake us up a bunch of movie night popcorn.

The end.

PS. I bet Amanda doesn’t have Bolt Popcorn included in her Year of Popcorn series!


  • Eric Miller

    The method anonymous posted just above is how we always did it when I was a kid at home. Haven't had to do that since we got the air popper a couple of years after we got married.

    I'm late to this one, don't know why Facebook finally showed me the link. Maybe it's because I don't look at Facebook much.

  • Anonymous

    ever tried heating the oil first? only put about 4-5 kernels in, heat the oil, and when those kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn kernels and remove the pan from heat for 30 seconds. then put the pot back on the stove. this heats the oil to the right temperature, then heats the other kernels before you put it back on the stove. less burnt popcorn and fewer "old maids" 🙂

  • Ellies Wonder

    Awesome genius idea! We only make popcorn via the shaking pan type of way, so we'll have to try this next time. 🙂 Glad to see all the blog updates, thinking of you guys!

    • Jennifer Jo

      Ha! See, at orientation, one of the presenters gave a child of mine a bag of popcorn. So we weren't actually PACKING popcorn to bring—it just HAPPENED to come along with us…

  • Margo

    oh, and I like your movie night idea. What movies do you recommend? We've watched The Sound of Music with our kids and that's it. Poor kids.

  • Margo

    that is so cool I wish I could burn my popcorn to use the solution!

    I pop our popcorn in my cast-iron Dutch oven and after reading Amanda's post, I've stopped shaking it (it was dangerous anyway, to be moving a hot heavy pot around and my hotpads would sometimes catch sparks and light up – very exciting but not safe). And we adore nutritional yeast on our popcorn! And I was just looking at your rosemary popcorn recipe again – MUST make it. (I'm contemplating a lemon tart with a rosemary crust for Sunday – mmmmmmmm, rosemary)

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