POPCORN MACHINE BUYERS GUIDE
If you are in the market for a popcorn machine, there are a few things you need to consider. Over the last few years more and more people have built home theaters and they are adding the popcorn machine for the finishing touch. Others just crave the theater taste and want the ability to make it at home. Whatever category you fall into, we have listed a few features and our recommendations:
1) What Size Should I Buy?
There are several different units on the market which all appeal to a different market. The smallest machines have a 4 ounce kettle and the largest go upwards of 20 ounces. For personal use or light industrial, we recommend the 6 ounce or 8 ounce machine. Although the 4 ounce will work, it will most likely take two batches--or more--of popcorn to get the quantity desired. You can count on about 1.5 gallon per 4 ounces of popcorn. Hence, a 4 ounce machine will yield about 1.5 gallons, an 8 ounce about 3 gallons, and a 12 ounce about 4.5 gallons. For a family of 4, we recommend about 3-4 gallons.
2) What difference does the wattage make?
This is a simple answer. The higher the wattage the quicker the cook time. If you don't want to wait for extended periods of time, we recommend 860 watts or more. Again, the 480 or 640 is fine if you have time and are willing to wait. If you are at a party and need to make numerous batches back to back, you will require the 860 watts or more.
3) What are the switches for?
Switches control three things. The stirrer, the heating element for the kettle, and the warming light. Premium models have 3 switches while entry/base models have 2. The cheaper units will combine the stirrer and heating element into 1 switch. This means the motor will constantly run during the 5-7 minute preheat for the kettle. If you don't mind noise, this might not impact your decision.
4) How do I make the popcorn?
You can either purchase oil, corn, and seasoning separately or purchase portion packs. Most home users--and theaters--use the pre-measured portion packs which contain all three in one package. You simply add all three of the contents to the kettle and your done. This is the no mess less fuss way to do things. You can purchase packs in multiple sizes--4 ounce, 6 ounce, 8 ounce, 10 ounce, etc..
5) How do I clean these. . .don't they get messy?
Many people are concerned about the mess. These are really quite easy to keep clean and the kernel tray makes clean-up a snap. The bottom of the machine has small holes in it and the small pieces will fall into the tray and you toss them in the trash (see picture). We recommend you purchase "Orange Clean" to clean the glass and remove the grease. It will have things looking like new--it is also non toxic and safe.
6) Is it really that important to have a built-in warming deck and heat lamp?
Only top quality machines have warming decks, and we have placed a heating element underneath the unit for ultimate performance. Combine that with the heat lamp/light, and your popcorn will remain fresh and hot for hours.
We hope the above helped you understand popcorn machines a little more than when you started.
Please visit the Great American Popcorn EBAY store to see our complete selection of Popcorn Supplies and Machines.