When I was a little boy, we had a Hamilton Beach popcorn popper. It had an electric base, shaped like a shallow wok on top. You filled up the middle with kernels, then covered them with oil. Finally, you put the bowl on top. It was transparent yellow-orange plastic, shaped something like a broader-than-normal top hat, with two handles. Then you plugged it in. Over about five minutes, the oil would sizzle, and then all of the popcorn would pop. When it slowed down considerably, you unplugged it, turned the whole thing upside down (making sure to hold the handles!), and now all of your popcorn was in the bowl, ready to be salted.
(I didn’t remember it being endorsed by Broadway Joe, but there you go. Ours was “Avocado Green,” by the way.)
I’m pleased to see there is still something similar available. This is the right form factor, though ours didn’t have a “stirring rod,” and it looks much lighter than ours was. You could have cracked someone’s skull with the base from the one we had.
Thinking of that old popcorn popper makes me happy. I was always having a really good time whenever it made an appearance. David from up the street was spending the night, and we were playing Atari and trying to sneak a glimpse of flesh on HBO. Or Dad just decided it was a popcorn night, and got up and made some. (He didn’t really do that unless we were all into something on TV, so it was good family time. We loved Real People.) I remember the salt would stick to the thin film of oil around the side of the bowl, so you could get a really salty and greasy piece by rubbing a kernel around and mopping it up.
That popper made great popcorn, but I don’t want to get one like it today. For one thing, apart from a perhaps-quarterly trip to the movies, I don’t eat super-oily popcorn like that anymore. We have an air popper that I use, or we have lighter varieties of microwave popcorn. For another, Lea would kill me if I came home with another countertop appliance, because countertop appliances must be stored.
Mostly I wonder whether my children will have any comparable items in their childhood memories; seemingly trivial things around which a halo of joy forms for them. I have such stark delineation between what I remember pre-divorce and post-divorce, and they won’t have that.
It’s hard for me to tell just how much I’ve “supercharged” the pre-divorce memories, but I’m not sure that imprecision bothers me. However they are in my heart is exactly as accurate as they need to be.