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The salty—or sweet—goodness. The crispy crunch. The buttery, finger-licking mess. It’s hard to imagine that those little, white fluff balls of deliciousness are whole grains wrapped in only 133 calories per cup—well, when “lightly” buttered, that is. Yet it’s not difficult to understand why Popcorn Day exists. After all, Americans chow down on 16 billion quarts of popcorn annually, according to the Popcorn Board. Opinions differ on when Popcorn Day is; some say Jan. 19, while others opt for Super Bowl Sunday.
You will need:
If you don’t want to pop your own, check the results of our recent taste tests of cheddar cheese and caramel popcorn.
What’s the easiest method for popping your own? Nuke it. Indeed, making popcorn is one of the main uses for microwave ovens, says the Popcorn Board. Just follow the manufacturer's directions to get perfectly popped kernels every time. If your microwave tends to burn or under pop the kernels, skip the automatic settings and follow the directions on the popcorn bag.
Each microwave oven in our Ratings gets evaluated with a number of different tests, including heating evenness, defrosting, and ease of use. (While we don't break out a separate popcorn score, how well each microwaves makes popcorn is a part of the overall score.)
We use the automatic popcorn setting on each microwave to pop a 3.5-ounce bag of a national brand’s natural-flavor popcorn. The vast majority of the machines we test do at least a good job, producing a minimum of 9 cups of popcorn.