Tahlequah Daily Press

Features

September 12, 2007

Popcorn popularity high, despite cautions

TAHLEQUAH DAILY PRESS — Centuries before the arrival of Europeans, Native Americans knew popcorn was not only a tasty snack, but a nutritious food.

And the kernels, whether popped or in their unpopped form, keep jumping off supermarket shelves today in microwave packages and the traditional jars or bags.

Recent reports of possible lung problems resulting from microwave popcorn consumption haven't fazed avid popcorn eaters. And manufacturers have said they'll stop using the ingredient blamed for causing the lung problems.

"I love popcorn," said Charline Long of Tahlequah. "It's my favorite snack."

Thinking of the smell of freshly-popped corn brings back good memories for Long.

"When we were kids, our dad used to grow popcorn and we'd save a big sack of it to pop every winter," she said. "Now I get those microwave popcorn bags. Back then, I liked it popped over the fire in the old popper."

Long referred to the old-style, basket-shaped popper with a long handle used to heat up the corn in the fireplace. And in pre-microwave days, many dorm-bound college students used an electric popcorn popper as their first cooking implement away from home. Besides making popcorn, the poppers could be used to warm up soup, or in other creative ways.

Long hadn't heard of the reported possible health dangers of microwave popcorn, but the news didn't deter her.

"It won't make me quit eating it," she said.

She and a friend said there's always some sort of news about a food that's supposed to create health dangers, but usually the news is exaggerated, and later people are told the food is safe.

Randy Moore, grocery manager at Reasor's, said microwave popcorn remains popular with shoppers.

"Obviously the microwave popcorn is by far the best selling," he said.

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