The High Price of Convenience Microwave Popcorn

Posted on Posted in Savvy Food Substitutions

In previous posts of our High Price of Convenience Series we examined how we pay an extraordinarily high price for items that are not much more convenient to prepare than their conventional counterparts.

Today we take a look at the high cost of microwaveable popcorn.

It seems that with the advent of the microwave, we’ve lost the art of making popcorn the old fashion ways either on the stove top or with a hot air popcorn popper. On first look it just seems that throwing a package of microwaveable popcorn into the microwave is the easier and quicker route. But as well see this is not the case not to mention that microwave popcorn is much more expensive.

We compare the cost and preparation times of popcorn kernels purchased in a bag with those bought in microwaveable popcorn packages.

Microwave Popcorn: Priced at $2.10 our Pop Secret microwave popcorn contains 3 packets of microwaveable popcorn a total of 298 grams of popcorn at .7 cents per gram. To prepare the popcorn you simply take a pack out of the box, remove the outer plastic wrapping and place it in the microwave. It took about 10 seconds to get the popcorn package into the microwave and another 2 minutes and 45 seconds to cook completely, making the total preparation time for our microwave popcorn 2 minutes and 55 seconds.

Popcorn Kernels in a Bag: Our Jolly Time Popcorn came in a 907 gram (2lb) bag at a cost of $1.79. This comes out to .2 cents per gram of popcorn or one third the cost of microwave popcorn. To pop the popcorn kernels you need an air popper. These can be purchased from your local Target or Wal-Mart for around $15 to $20.

I was surprised at how easy and quick it is to make popcorn using an air popper. Simply use the small measuring cup on top of the air popper to scoop the right amount of popcorn kernels out of the bag. Place the popcorn into the air popper and plug the unit in. Within 2 minutes and 22 seconds we had a full bowl of popped popcorn. Amazingly, the air popper cooked the popcorn more quickly than the microwave!

Add the time it took to measure and place popcorn into the air popper (24 seconds) along with the time it took to wipe clean the air popper after we were finished (30 seconds) and the total start to finish time for making a bowl of popcorn using the air popper was 3 minutes and 18 seconds.  This compares to a total preparation time of 2 minutes and 55 seconds for the microwave popcorn.

The air popped corn tasted extremely fresh. No slight artificial butter aftertaste as was the case with the microwave popcorn. The high fiber popcorn out of the bag is one of the healthiest snacks you can eat. You can, however,  season the air popped popcorn  to your taste. Add salt, seasoned salt, even melted butter. Or eat it in its healthiest form right out of the air popper with no added salt or butter.

Ingredient comparison of the two forms of popcorn seem to bear out that air popped popcorn may be the healthier choice.

Pop Secret Microwave popcorn ingredients: Whole Grain Popcorn, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Color Added Non-Fat Milk, Freshness Preserved by Propyl Gallate and Citric Acid.

Jolly Time Popcorn Kernel ingredients: Yellow Popcorn

Conclusion: Microwave popcorn is not much more convenient to make than air popped popcorn. The microwave popcorn took a total of 2 minutes and 55 seconds to prepare while preparation time for the air popped popcorn was 3 minutes and 18 seconds.

Yet at .7 cents per gram of popcorn the microwave popcorn was over three times more expensive than the air popped popcorn. Furthermore, the air popped popcorn tasted fresher and could be seasoned to your own liking.

Yet again this shows the high price we pay for an almost insignificant amount of convenience.