Humans have managed to put a man on the moon.

Why can’t we get microwave popcorn right?

For my sanity, I’ve mostly given up on microwave popcorn.  I make my popcorn old school—I buy a big jar of Orville Redenbacher (don’t talk to me about any other brand) kernels and pop them in a pan on the stove.

I start by heating the oil and adding a single kernel of corn.  When it pops, I know the oil is ready and pour in the rest of the kernels.  I give the pan several liberal shakes, making sure the oil coats all the kernels, then cover the pan and wait.

It’s like making coffee in the morning—the ritual is part of the appeal.

And using this method, I make perfect popcorn—or nearly perfect—every single time.

Knowing my love of the corn and hoping to save me some time, Santa left a box of (Orville Redenbacher—Santa’s always watching) microwave popcorn in my stocking.

A few days later, I decided to have some popcorn while I watched a movie (popcorn and movies always go together.  There’s no point in popcorn while you’re on a work Zoom call, for example.)

Unlike cooking on the stove, microwave popcorn takes surgical precision.  The instant I heard the popping slow down, I stopped the cooking and pulled out the bag. 

Careful of the steam, I tore it open and poured the contents into a waiting bowl.

Half the bag remained in kernel form.

I sighed.

Next time, I made the perfect bag.  Nearly every kernel popped.

I was pleased with myself, figuring I’d finally got the magic touch as I poured the popcorn into the bowl and prepared to watch The Thin Man.

But I’d grown overconfident.  I’d forgotten that you never master microwave popcorn.  You must concentrate like a golfer on his final putt every single time.

The next time I made popcorn, I heard the popping slowing.  Let it go just a bit more, I told myself, those unpopped kernels from the first bag still fresh in my mind.

Just one, two, maybe three more seconds….

I knew before I’d even opened the microwave door that I’d made the cardinal mistake.

The smell told me I’d left it in too long.

The popcorn was black, there were scorch marks on the bag, and after choking down a few pieces, I dumped the entire bowl into the trash.

This should not be so difficult.

It was a six pack, so I have three more bags to go.

Then I can return to my beloved pan and jar of corn, and make my popcorn in peace.

But I sure will miss the Movie Theater Butter flavoring.