This article from the Minneapolis StarTribune got me in a popcorn state of mind. Aw, who am I kidding -- I'm always in a popcorn state of mind.
Today it's all about the microwave bags, but back in the '70s our scientists were working night and day to figure out a way to pop the stuff without having to stand in front of the stove and burn hands -- and popcorn -- while wildly shaking a pot. (Sure, Jiffy Pop made it easier to get your crunchy, buttery fix, but you still had to stand there and move it.)
And Great Orville Redenbacher's ghost, they succeeded. The awesome Hamilton Beach Butter-Up Popper -- and its ilk -- made it so easy to pop movie-theater popcorn at home, even Joe Namath could do it. The little robot arm stirred the popcorn, so all you had to do was plop a stick of butter on the top, then sit back and hold a football while your corn popped. Check out the vintage TV commercial below.
We didn't have this specific one, but ours was close -- I do remember it had a yellow plastic dome, which made the popping corn look all the more buttery.
Too bad the scientists kept on working after they hit the pinnacle of popcorn perfection, and came up with the air popper. Sure, it was much healthier, but it spewed forth popcorn-shaped chunks of cardboard. Bleah.