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A Real American Favorite : Popcorn Is the Easy Starting Point for Delicious Snacks and Treats

November 13, 1986

Americans enjoy popcorn--they consume almost 11 billion quarts of the fluffy kernels each year. That's 46 quarts per man, woman and child, according to statistics gathered by the Popcorn Institute.

Supposedly, the American Indians introduced popcorn to the Pilgrims when they brought it to the first Thanksgiving feast, and it has remained a favorite ever since. Today's popcorn kernels range from black to multicolored to deep red. When popped, however, all varieties are white.

Technology has improved both the quality and "popability" of popcorn, with kernels now popping bigger and better than those grown at the turn of the century. Different hybrids or varieties of popcorn pop differently, so experiment with various brands to find a favorite.

Enjoy popcorn plain, with a sprinkle of salt or a drizzle of melted butter. Popped corn also can be flavored, coated or combined with other ingredients into a snack mix.

ENGLISH TOFFEE POPCORN CRUNCH

6 ounces English toffee

1/4 cup light corn syrup

2 quarts popped popcorn

Combine toffee and corn syrup in small, heavy saucepan. Stir constantly over low heat until toffee is melted and mixture smooth.

Remove from heat and pour over popcorn. Toss with wooden spoons to coat well. Cool. Makes 2 quarts.

Note: Sauce may be cooked in microwave on HIGH (100%) power about 2 minutes. Stir to blend before pouring over popcorn. Spread any excess toffee mixture on wax paper, chill and break into pieces.

ORIENTAL POPCORN

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup sesame seeds

2 quarts popped popcorn

Combine corn syrup, sesame oil and soy sauce in small, heavy saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and boil 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in sesame seeds. Pour over popcorn and stir with wooden spoons until blended. Makes 2 quarts.

BAKED CARAMEL CORN

1 cup butter or margarine

2 cups brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup light or dark corn syrup

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 quarts popped popcorn

Melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 5 minutes.

Remove mixture from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla. Gradually pour over popcorn, mixing well. Spread mixture on 2 jellyroll pans. Bake at 250 degrees 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool completely. Break apart and store in tightly covered container. Makes about 6 quarts.

MICROWAVE CARAMEL CORN

1/3 cup butter or margarine

2/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup light or dark corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 quarts popped popcorn

Microwave butter on HIGH (100%) power 1 1/2 minutes or until melted in large shallow microwave-safe dish. Stir in brown sugar and corn syrup. Microwave on HIGH until mixture boils, about 3 minutes, stirring once.

Microwave on HIGH 3 to 4 minutes without stirring. Stir in baking soda and vanilla. Stir in popcorn, mixing well. Microwave on MEDIUM (75%) power about 6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes to coat popcorn evenly. Cool.

Break apart and store in tightly covered container. Makes about 2 quarts.

PARTY MIX

2 quarts popped popcorn

2 cups slim pretzel sticks

2 cups cheese curls

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

Combine popcorn, pretzel sticks and cheese curls in shallow baking pan. Melt butter in small saucepan. Stir in Worcestershire, garlic and seasoned salts. Pour over popcorn mixture, mixing well.

Bake at 250 degrees about 45 minutes, stirring often.

Mix may also be prepared in microwave. Combine popcorn, pretzels and cheese curls in microwave-safe bowl. Set aside.

Combine butter, Worcestershire and garlic and seasoned salts in 2-cup glass measuring cup. Microwave on HIGH (100%) power 1 minute or until butter is melted. Stir mixture well, then pour over popcorn mixture and toss until well coated.

Microwave on HIGH 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Makes about 2 1/2 quarts.

Note: 1 cup dry roasted peanuts may be added if desired.

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