Popcorn Popper China Syndrome
March 24, 2019 5:47 PM   Subscribe

I love airpopped popcorn. Every airpopper I've ever owned has had parts that eventually just melted completely. Tell me about your airpopper that hasn't experienced meltdown despite a couple years of popping use.

It's not the actual popper that melts, but the hood thing that directs the popped popcorn into your bowl. They always seemed to be made of super cheap plastic that can't stand up to the heat. We're on our second popper in a couple years and I'm not okay with that degree of shitty engineering. What else you got for me, internet?
posted by soren_lorensen to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have literally never had this happen and I am also a regular hot air popper user. My current one which I have had for a few years is a West Bend Poppery II which I guess is 1) vintage and 2) sought after because you can roast coffee with it if you mod it. My trick, however, is to just look for these things at Savers or other thrift stores where they cost a buck or two and just figure you're going to run through 'em.
posted by jessamyn at 5:53 PM on March 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

I’ve never had this happen either. Are you melting butter in the little tray? Are you running it empty or something? Mine was $2 at a thrift store 8 years ago and we use it a lot. We have the Cuisinart ones at work where we pop popcorn for 50 kids each Friday and they are still going strong.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:58 PM on March 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

It is very important to turn an air popper off right away once it is done.

While it is popping the kernels absorb some of the heat. Once they are gone there is only the plastic cover to get it.
posted by srboisvert at 6:27 PM on March 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

When my mom brought home an air popper (which, to the best of my knowledge, is still in use with no melted parts) in the 90s, I remember she read the manual and noted with nerdy glee that the plastic hood was made out of a special kind of plastic, supposedly "the same kind used to make airplane windows." IIRC the plastic was Lexan. So maybe some are made of bad plastic that melts but there are at least some, possibly old ones, that aren't. I think ours was by Presto.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:38 PM on March 24, 2019

Have you tried making popcorn in your microwave with this type of bowl? Pretty much the same as air popped if you don't use any oil or butter.
posted by NoraCharles at 7:13 PM on March 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

I had an Orville Redenbacher branded Presto airpopper for over 10 years before the electric cord gave out (from the machine not having an on/off switch and my pulling by the cord rather than the plug). The hood was pretty ugly after several times a week use for so long, but no melting. I replaced it with the exact same model 5 years ago, and it's been used as hard and is still fine. I do see that Presto has redesigned this since I bought my second, so I can't say if the current model will work as well.
posted by ClingClang at 7:22 PM on March 24, 2019

Presto PopcornNow Plus, model 0482005, UL 340G corn popper, 1440 watts.
It likely dates from about 1985, used approximately weekly.
You can get this "vintage" model on Ebay for about 35 bucks.
posted by the Real Dan at 7:25 PM on March 24, 2019

I have a silicone folding popper that goes in the microwave and it's been fine for years.
posted by vegartanipla at 9:05 PM on March 24, 2019

I bought one and the hood melted slightly on first use, so you're not alone in this happening.

(Mine stopped melting on further uses so we still have it)
posted by BinaryApe at 12:46 AM on March 25, 2019

Brown paper lunch bags folded shut also work for microwave popping.
posted by LizardBreath at 7:21 AM on March 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Mine is a West Bend Poppery II. I think my mom bought it at a second hand shop sometime in the mid-nineties. It survived weekly family movie nights and my sister's daily after school popcorn habit, and still runs fine, no melting.
posted by abeja bicicleta at 4:41 PM on March 25, 2019

I have a Presto "PopLite" (at least, I think that's the model -- the sticker has long worn off my unit) popper. It's sort of the bog standard air popper. White cylindrical part with the heater/blower in it, and then a translucent yellowish top part made of a hard plastic, with a removable round butter dish in the top which also doubles as a measure for the unpopped kernels.

It's 17 years old this year (oof) and still going strong. And I think elsewhere in my family is a similar one that's probably a decade older than that. There's just not much in them to stop working, not even a power switch.

A quick online search suggests they're still being made, although I have no idea whether they have changed the design or started to cut corners.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:56 PM on March 25, 2019

Late to the game, but after a number of wars with my air popper (which insists on launching fully 50% of the kernels, unpopped, all over my kitchen) I have thrown in the towel and switched to stove popped popcorn. I have had extremely high success with the following technique:

Add small amount of oil and 2 kernels of popcorn to heavy pot. Turn stove on high.
When the 2 kernels of popcorn have popped, throw 1/4 c of unpopped kernels in, cover, and turn the heat OFF. Shake pan briefly and set a timer for 1 minute.
At conclusion of 1 minute, turn heat back on high
Turn off when popping seems to stop.

Doing it this way has been nigh-foolproof - 0-1 unpopped kernels in bottom of pot, no burning, etc. IMO the amount of oil used is negligible; your personal value of 'negligible' may vary. I will say that I used to prefer air popped to stove popped because of reliability and ease; but now that my air popper is a rage-filled old curmudgeon and I have figured out a low-effort stovetop technique, I am a convert.
posted by telepanda at 10:47 AM on May 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

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