If you're a child of the 70's no doubt at some point in your life you remember using Jiffy Pop popcorn trays. I still remember it clearly as my parents would let my brother and I each take a turn at hanging onto the handle of the aluminum pan contraption over the stove. Slowly but surely the cover would start to rise and get bigger and bigger until Pop! the popcorn broke through the lid and you were ready to eat. Then came the introduction and modernization of the hot air popcorn machine and then eventually the microwave oven. Up through our current time, probably the fastest and easiest way to make popcorn is to throw a bag in the microwave and let 'er rip for 2 minutes or so. While it is fast, it is not that appetizing in my opinion.

If you had to really narrow down your favorite popcorn I wonder if you would agree with me that the absolute best popcorn is made from a pop corn machine like the ones found at the local movie theater. There was always something different about the taste of movie theater popcorn that made my mouth water just thinking about it.

Like many other things that were originally meant for large commercial use only, commercial popcorn poppers are now available to be purchased relatively inexpensively by small businesses and even home owners. How would you like a fresh batch of kettle corn or caramel corn whipped up in your own home all in a matter of minutes? I knew you would :-)

Some tips to help you shop for a popcorn maker is to first think about your family or business. How many people are you going to need to making this for? If your house is known as "party central", it might make a lot of sense to keep the kids and neighbors coming back again and again and buy the machine that will feed a lot of folks.

When you break it down, all the larger machines are based on the kettle size and how much raw popcorn can be cooked at a single time. A single batch takes about 3 to 4 minutes and most home users would probably want to look at machines with 4 to 6 oz. sizes. Remember 6 oz. is approximately the same amount you'd get in a standard size microwave bag of popcorn. An 8 oz. size would be ideal for a large family, a small business, or busy waiting room.

As far as wattage goes, this is the other differentiation among the types of machines. The 860 watt popcorn makers cook faster than the 480 or 640 versions. Those lower wattage versions work fine but just take longer. How long can you wait for the popcorn to be ready? That will determine which wattage to buy. Personally the lower watt versions are just fine by me and they cost less too.

If you are thinking of buying a popcorn machine for a social function like a birthday party, anniversary party, or other things such as this, you may be better off considering popcorn machine rentals. After all, it might not make sense to spend up to several hundred dollars for a machine that gets limited use.

If you've read other postings by me, you'll also know I'm a big believer in online shopping. Spend a little time googling and you can save significant money on sales tax as well shipping costs and you don't have to drive all over town to do price comparisons. Let the internet help you on your way to finding the popcorn maker that will make you smile! Anyone hungry?