I suppose than anyone can get addicted to anything. People get addicted to alcohol, drugs, shopping, and all kinds of other things. My addiction happens to be to popcorn.
It started at an early age. My parents used to pop corn in a deep skillet with a lid. They usually put a bit of butter in with the oil and shake the skillet until the corn was all popped, except for a few “old maids”. I got addicted to that wonderfully tasting corn which has lasted a lifetime.
Fast-forward to around 1955 when my wife and I were courting and we see the popcorn addiction coming into play. It turned out that Clara’s family loved popcorn as well, and popped it very frequently. So, I was courting another addict which came out whenever we attended a movie.
Clara’s friend, Bessie Alford, owned and operated the movie in Hemphill. She would always let us in the movie for free, but had to pay for any treats once inside. I soon learned that one bag of popcorn was not enough. Clara would need two bags at a minimum. Luckily for me they cost only 15 cents a bag during that time. Her love of popcorn became a private joke between us. In fact, for her wedding gift I gave her an electric popcorn popper. In the years since then we have worn out numerous other poppers.
Our love of popcorn prompted us to purchase a popcorn business while living in North Carolina in the early 1980s. I purchased fifty unique small popcorn machines and placed them in businesses within a twenty-five mile radius. I also furnished flavoring to put on top of the popcorn, such as taco, green onion, cheddar cheese, and jalapeño. I ran my route of businesses twice per month, collected the money and re-supplied the retailer with more popcorn and flavoring. It was a great sideline business.
When our first child was born in 1959, we would feed her popcorn. Of course we would pinch off a piece of white corn and give it to her. She loved it. Her name for popcorn was ‘knock knock”. Naturally she became an addict, too. When our son was born we introduced him to popcorn at an early age. Even today when we all get together several bags of popcorn adorn the card table when we play forty-two.
It seems that popcorn has been around in one form or another for many years. It is said that Native Americans invented, or discovered, popcorn around 3,600 BC in the area now known as New Mexico. The Indians reportedly taught the early explorers about growing and popping the corn. Today three states claim the title “Popcorn Capital Of The World”, those being Nebraska, Indiana, and Illinois. In fact, popcorn is the official state snack food in Illinois. So, they seem to know a good thing when they see it.
Most homes today no longer pop corn the old fashioned way, over the stove in a deep skillet. With the invention of the microwave oven and popcorn in a bag it is a very fast and tasty snack food. I still feel the old way produced the best popcorn one could eat. But, that’s just me - an addict stuck back in the 1950s.
BY: NEAL MURPHY
107 Hemlock Street
PO Box 511
San Augustine, TX 75972