Guest Post by Lisa Parker, Cakes for All Seasons
I love plain popcorn. I don’t need it slathered in butter or sprinkled with salt. Just plain popcorn for me, thank you very much. But not microwaved popcorn. Can’t stand the smell. I’d rather get out a heavy pot, put in enough oil to lightly coat the bottom, and add a single layer of kernels. Put the cover on and wait for the pop pop to start, shaking the pan until the popping ceases, dump it in a big bowl, and start munching. Yum.
In high school I was on the “college prep” track which meant that we weren’t supposed to take shop or business classes. I rebelled and took both wood shop and a personal business class. My folks have a much-cherished butcher-block table to show for my efforts, and I learned to balance a checkbook.
Everyone should take these classes . . . but that’s another blog post.
One day our business teacher arrived with two kinds of popcorn: the fancy Orville Redenbacher brand and the plain, store brand. We had just completed a week of discussions on buying store brands vs. name brands, checking unit pricing and bulk vs. smaller unit buying and assumed that popcorn was an end-of-week treat. It was, but it also provided a valuable lesson.
She poured a cup of each brand and proceeded to pop them separately. We checked the number of unpopped kernels and measured the amount of popped corn for each. Our findings? While more expensive per ounce, the Orville Redenbacher yield was higher and there were few if any unpopped kernels (aka old maids), left behind. We did some algebra and determined that in the end, the Orville Redenbacher was a better buy than the less expensive, lower-yield store brand.
That lesson of 36 years ago was so powerful that when I buy store brands today, I still wonder if I’m really getting a better deal.
Yesterday, I decided to re-do the popcorn experiment and popped a half cup of each. Happily, nearly all the kernels in each popped, but the Orville Redenbacher batch yielded 30% more — it was fluffier. Today’s cost difference is far more than it was four decades ago: six cents an ounce for the store brand vs. 16 cents for Orville’s kernels.
So is 30% more volume worth almost three times the cost? Nope!
And, if you dress up the popcorn, can you really tell the difference?
Check out these recipes for flavored popcorn I found at the Food Network Magazine site.
What’s your favorite way to serve popcorn?
Lisa Parker has been playing with desserts for years. After 20 years of baking desserts and playing with cake, she attended the French Pastry School in Chicago and graduated, with honors, from the L'Art Gateau program. She creates “delicious, joyous cakes and desserts” for wedding couples, party planners, and party goers in southern and coastal Maine, southern New Hampshire, and the Mt. Washington Valley.
Lisa can be found at Cakes for All Seasons where she says, “Let’s meet, I’ll bring the treats!”
This is a Calendar of Days post.