Oh, October. It is the month when dreams are made (well, not this year if you’re an SF Giants fan like me) and hope springs eternal for those football and hockey teams just getting their seasons underway.
It also is, as I just recently learned, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month. Who knew?
I love popcorn. In any form, whether it is microwaved, the traditional popping on the stove, the hot air popper, a little shaking action with the expanding foil top kind that tastes like you got it at the movies, the fancy little carts that show up at festivals. Kettle corn, fancy popcorn drizzled with chocolate or sprinkled with the white cheddar that ends up all over your hands as you munch. It really doesn’t matter. One of my favorite holiday gift items to receive, no lie, is one of those decorative popcorn tins. So if you were thinking of adding me to your list, there’s a quick and easy solution for you. I am not picky; I don’t care if the tin is one promoting a carbonated beverage with white polar bears on it or some Thomas Kincaid landscape. I just care about the three flavor varieties of my favorite go-to snack inside.
In fact, I used to buy those tins in bulk when they hit the stores; everyone in the family had one with their name on it each year under the Christmas tree. It basically became a holiday tradition, just like me baking up a batch of homemade cinnamon rolls every Christmas morning before we could dig in to the treasures stuffed inside the stockings.
As a kid growing up, popcorn was also a staple snack in our house. On those rare occasions when the whole family would sit down to watch a show together – sometimes it was Walt Disney, other times it was Emergency or Laugh-In – my dad would get the popcorn ready. We had a cocker spaniel named Buffy who also loved popcorn and knew the sound of my dad getting the pan out to pop up some kernels. Buffy would run into the kitchen and wait very impatiently while he listened to the proceedings. He was always rewarded with some freshly popped pieces and then would head to the living room as we all munched, hoping we would toss a couple more treats his way.
Come holiday time, our kitchen table was turned in to a virtual popcorn ball-making factory. Everyone in town loved the popcorn balls my mom and dad made – they had to turn out several batches to make sure that friends and family each got some to enjoy. The popcorn mound would cover the kitchen table, with the corn syrup concoction then poured over … the mixing would begin and then my dad would fashion the sweet treats and wrap them in wax paper. They would get tied with red or green curling ribbon and sent off to the recipients. It was a sure sign of the approaching holidays when the kitchen table was a mountain of popcorn.
Such a simple thing, popcorn, but it can probably bring back memories for everyone. Whether you got scared and accidentally tossed some out of the bucket at the movies or used it as homemade garland for holiday decorating, I’m kind of glad there is a month set aside to honor it.
Truthfully, popcorn was not at all what I intended to craft this month’s column around but just as the kernels sizzle in the pan when they hit that hot oil, the idea took hold and I was powerless to stop my fingers from flying over the keyboard. Call it an homage to the power of the pop. It’s just good eating. And good memories.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.