Popcorn has been around since the first Thanksgiving celebrated by this country, a gift from the Native Americans that we embraced then and still do. A staple of movie theaters since the early 1900s, the snack followed Americans to their living rooms when television was introduced – and Jiffy Pop led the way, providing an easy and mesmerizing way to prepare the treat in one’s own home.
A man named Fred Mennen thought there must be an easier way to make popcorn at home than having to pull out the old frying pan, a task that could prove to be messy. After five years of experimentation with a special hybrid that grew near his home in Indiana, Fred developed a pretty foolproof method for popping corn. He began marketing Jiffy Pop in 1958, offering both natural and butter flavors. Within two years, his magical new product was being distributed throughout the entire country.
Kids were perfectly willing to make Jiffy Pop themselves, although most parents took over when it came to stove-related matters until the youngsters got older. In the meantime, most of us have memories of staring in amazement as the process unfolded. First, you heard a small chorus of faint and distant pops, which steadily grew faster and louder. At this point, the container would magically transform itself into a bulging foil bubble.
Careful though, you don’t want to get so mesmerized that you fail to shake the container. Keeping the “pan” in constant motion was the key to evenly cooking the kernels, and being lazy was sure to result in the smell of burned corn wafting through the kitchen. Brings back memories, doesn’t it?
For a number of years, Jiffy Pop offered a microwavable version of their time-tested treat, but it lacked the magic of the original and never quite caught on, especially with the plethora of competition. Today, Jiffy Pop is only available in its original stovetop form and in one flavor – butter, of course.
And that’s really all you need, especially if you are going on a camping trip without electricity. Yeah, the microwave might be easier at home, but you are sacrificing the delicious flavor that only a stovetop can provide. It’s probably been a while since you’ve done it that way, but the difference is noticeable. And that alone is worth keeping Jiffy Pop around.
Watching that foil grow into a mushroom full of buttery popcorn greatness still manages to bring a smile to my face. Love grabbing a package when shooing for the camping trip and then playing the game of chicken with the campfire, trying to ensure it heats evenly as the flames do their best to thwart you.