Popcorn in brown bags
May 18, 2011 8:59 PM   Subscribe

Any reason not to eat freshly popped popcorn out of purchased brown (lunch) bags?
posted by america4 to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: no
posted by sanko at 9:00 PM on May 18, 2011 [9 favorites]

Huh? Do you mean that you pop the popcorn, place it in brown paper lunchbags, and then eat the popcorn? Why would you be concerned about doing this?
posted by zachlipton at 9:00 PM on May 18, 2011

We used to do this all the time in elementary school. As I am here typing this, I think you can rest assured that it did not kill me.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:05 PM on May 18, 2011

When I was younger we ate it out of paper grocery bags all the time. Except for the purple urine I am mostly fine.
posted by ian1977 at 9:06 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Are you asking because you're concerned that the bags are going to impart some sort of inherent bagginess onto the popcorn or something? I store homemade bread, bagels, etc on the counter in bags like that. Usually for a couple of days at a time. I haven't turned into a bag yet, so I'm going to assume you probably won't either.
posted by phunniemee at 9:07 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

I've eaten popcorn. I've eaten a brown paper bag (don't ask). I've never eaten them both together, but I suspect you'll come out on top on way or the other.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:08 PM on May 18, 2011 [8 favorites]

None. No reason. I find it easier to put in my hand first, but dumping directly from bag to mouth is ok too if you can prevent the dreaded overflow pour.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:10 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: ok, ok, thanks. i get the idea.
posted by america4 at 9:12 PM on May 18, 2011 [5 favorites]

Yes. You might want to read this piece from U of Nebraska. That being said, I think that, if you use those little brown paper bags you buy, it's different than reusing a grocery store bag. I'm not totally sure about the glue, but, if you're just putting popcorn in the bag, I can't imagine the glue would do all that much. Maybe let the popcorn cool first. That way, it's no different than if you'd put an apple in the bag, right? And we'd all do that.

That being said, why not use a litterless lunch kit of some sort? The kind that is free of BPA, pthalates, lead and what-not. Much kinder to the earth.
posted by acoutu at 9:23 PM on May 18, 2011

I would not pop popcorn in brown paper bags. They are not designed or tested for cooking, as acoutu's link says.
posted by grouse at 9:32 PM on May 18, 2011

acoutu, if you follow the links from that site, the USDA recommendations deal exclusively with cooking a turkey in the oven in a brown paper bag and references the ink, etc. on the bag. I can only assume that they're talking about the large, printed grocery store bags, and to cook a turkey, the bags would have to be in the oven for hours, which would cause the possibility of ink/glue leaching from the turkey juices and the bag potentially catching on fire. Plain lunch-sack paper bags are microwaved for a few minutes at the very most to pop popcorn and don't have the ink or dubious handling that a grocery store bag would.
posted by kro at 10:10 PM on May 18, 2011

I cannot think of a container outside of a hewn wood bowl soaked in bleach that does not have a study linking it to cancer. Enjoy your popcorn.
posted by GilloD at 10:58 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

I suppose the bags could leak butter if you put butter on it. I seem to remember that being a problem when I was in elementary school (the bags always got greasy).
posted by I_love_the_rain at 12:23 AM on May 19, 2011

I've played in brown bag concerts aka lunch recitals. Maybe it would be noisy, in which case I'd vote no.
posted by Namlit at 1:40 AM on May 19, 2011

It works well; I used to prepare popcorn for 40 students at a time in small brown paper bags. The bags get greasy but that's part of the fun.
posted by Miko at 9:14 AM on May 19, 2011

I think there is a very slight chance of a problem if you have a sulfite sensitivity ('salad bar syndrome'), and supposedly the FDA says about 1% of the population does, and about 5% of those have asthma:

Sulfites are counted among the top nine food allergens, but a reaction to sulfite is not a true allergy.[8] Some people (but not many) have positive skin allergy tests to sulfites indicating true (IgE-mediated) allergy.[9] It may cause breathing difficulty within minutes after eating a food containing it,[10] asthmatics[11][12] and possibly people with salicylate sensitivity (or aspirin sensitivity)[13][14] are at an elevated risk for reaction to sulfites. Anaphalaxis and life threatening reactions are rare.[9] Other symptoms include sneezing, swelling of the throat, and hives.[14]

Brown paper bags are probably made from kraft paper, which is processed with sodium sulfide (I was interested to find this out because I've always thought I could smell just the merest tinge of rotten egg in my grocery bags), that can easily oxidize to sulfite.

If you were using white paper bags your risk of a sulfite reaction would probably be higher, because white paper is often made by the sulfite process, which uses sulfites directly.

If your bag was made before 2010, there is a chance it would have contained a very small residue of diesel or kerosene due to the existence of an infamous tax break (now expired), because that tax break gave paper manufacturers a $3.7B+ incentive to add superfluous diesel, kerosene, or gasoline to their black liquor, which is added to wood chips near the beginning of the kraft process.
posted by jamjam at 9:27 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Already solved, but I'll point out that if Alton Brown microwaves popcorn in a plain paper bag, it's probably just fine.
posted by General Malaise at 1:28 PM on May 19, 2011

I've been popping corn in brown paper bags in the microwave ever since I first saw the link special-k pointed out. Spoiler: no greasy stuff needed. Pop it dry.
posted by no relation at 3:44 PM on May 19, 2011

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