Popcorn. Love it. Always have. Always will. In fact, there was a period in my life when I gobbled a lot of it every single day. I had convinced myself that I’d invented a new diet — fill up on popcorn and you won’t have room for anything else. Unfortunately it didn’t work, which might explain why I’m not the author of a best-seller about it.
But aside from that, can someone tell me why nobody makes popcorn the old-fashioned way anymore? You know, in a pan on top of the stove like mom did? Think about it. When was the last time you made popcorn at home that wasn’t the microwave variety? Not that there’s anything wrong with microwave popcorn – after all, popcorn is the perfect food no matter how it’s fixed – but does anyone even know anymore how to heat the pan, warm the oil, pop the corn, salt it, and most important, butter it?
Even though my affinity for popcorn is legendary, I can remember a time when even I had too much. It was when I was a young boy and spending some in the country with my maternal grandparents. My grandmother was an old-fashioned farm wife who’d been raised in an environment that caused her to firmly believe that rich food was something to be desired, and that a true sign of love for her family was the amount of butter she could cram into everything she cooked. And she didn’t forget the importance of lard, which she also used lavishly. I can still remember her home-made donuts, deep-fried in lard and then tumbled warm into icing sugar. Homer Simpson would have loved them.
But back to popcorn. When she popped it, she did it with lard or bacon grease, and then turned it all out into a huge roaster pan. She’d salt it thoroughly and then pour endless amounts of melted butter all over it. And mind you, this wasn’t supermarket butter — this was country butter, dark yellow and with all the flavor that’s missing in commercial butter. She put so much on the popcorn that even after it was all eaten, you could see pools of butter left in the pan. On the night I remember so well, we all dove in and ate and ate — and after a while I began to get sick. It was just too rich and too much and I was soon wishing I’d never see popcorn again. (Of course, I changed my mind the next time she made it.)
Well, it’s time to tie all this in to our normal subject — music. What better tune to celebrate the perfect food than “Popcorn” from the 1970’s Moog synthesizer group Hot Butter? Actually Hot Butter was mostly Stan Free, a talented keyboard man who had bounced around for a while before hitting the charts with the tune, and he used the name Hot Butter to tie in with the song, which made it into the top ten. He had some other similar songs and some classical stuff too, but nothing clicked (or should I say popped?) like his first and only hit.
I’d like to write more about him, but I need to get this posted and go fix myself some microwave popcorn.