This is Highly Recommend, a column dedicated to what people in the food industry are obsessed with eating, drinking, and buying right now.
Whether I’m satisfying a midday craving, serving a bedtime snack to my three kids, or fixing “dinner for one” when my family’s not home, a big bowl of buttery popcorn is my go-to. But when it comes to the prep, I can be a bit of a picky popper.
At first, my air popper satisfied my needs, but it was too big to live permanently on my kitchen counter, and each use required lugging it out of the cupboard, finding a free plug, digging out a big-enough bowl, and melting the butter in a separate dish. It didn’t take me long to lose the little butter tray that doubled as the popper’s lid, leaving me to balance small bowls and plates over the opening to keep the air hot enough to pop.
Although some people (allegedly) find it easy, I never quite mastered the stovetop technique–a testy trial-and-error process that left the pot either full of unpopped kernels or pimpled with charred pieces. The burnt popcorn smell would linger for days, and the cleanup process was never worth the work.
And sure, microwave popcorn bags are a simple, foolproof way to serve the snack in a hurry, but that chemical-y, wannabe butter flavor just doesn’t hit right. Health concerns tied to the ingredients used to mimic that buttery flavor leave me hesitant to share the popped snack with my kids, and, I’m not going to lie, I’ve burnt my fingers from eagerly busting open the boiling hot bag on more than one occasion.
But the Cuisinart Pop and Serve Collapsible Popcorn Maker allows me to, yes, pop and serve the perfect bowl of popcorn with ease. I was first introduced to this microwave popcorn popper while visiting with a friend. She pulled a flattened red bowl out of the cupboard, snapped it open like an accordion, dumped in a scoop of kernels, closed the lid, and nuked it. When the microwave beeped, she poured on the melted butter, shook on some salt, and served it right in the bowl. I ordered my own on the spot.
And now I use my microwave popcorn popper daily. My kids can prepare their own snack anytime they want (without assistance–or burnt fingers). It’s easy to use, simple to clean, and folds up flat for simple storage. No more microwave bags that may be lined with endocrine disruptors. No more burnt pots or lingering chemical aftertaste. Just freshly popped popcorn topped with butter. Lots of butter.