This post begins an ongoing series called "Things You Should Never Buy (Because They're So Damn Easy to Make)."
I stopped buying microwaveable popcorn long ago for a number of reasons. It makes nearly every food caution list because of the carcinogens in the packaging. The butter-like substance of unknown origin covering the kernels gives me pause. The price increase from bulk popping kernels to bagged popping corn is absurd. And the bagged popping corn creates unnecessary packaging waste that bulk kernels do not.
So I have been making popcorn with loose kernels on the stovetop. It's pretty easy, but I've thought here and there about getting an air popper. I haven't yet because I try to avoid single task kitchen tools (think: melon ballers, panini makers, egg poaching doodads). I'm so glad I didn't buy one, because my housemate tipped me off to an amazingly obvious concept I had never considered: Microwave Popcorn.
We put a handful of loose kernels in a brown paper bag, folded the top over a couple times, and laid it in the microwave. We cooked it on the "popcorn" setting--probably 4 minutes or so. That's all. Seriously. And it worked! I was ecstatic (I really like popcorn). It suddenly seemed so ingenious--microwave popcorn! Why hadn't I thought of this before?
I gleefully remarked, "I bet this is how the first Native Americans to make popcorn felt!"
My housemate looked sideways at me and replied, "I think you're a little overexcited."