Let’s Get Pop­pin’

The Oakdale Leader - - PERSPECTIVE - MARG JACK­SON

Oh, Oc­to­ber. It is the month when dreams are made (well, not this year if you’re an SF Giants fan like me) and hope springs eter­nal for those foot­ball and hockey teams just get­ting their sea­sons un­der­way.

It also is, as I just re­cently learned, Na­tional Pop­corn Pop­pin’ Month. Who knew?

I love pop­corn. In any form, whether it is mi­crowaved, the tra­di­tional pop­ping on the stove, the hot air pop­per, a lit­tle shak­ing ac­tion with the ex­pand­ing foil top kind that tastes like you got it at the movies, the fancy lit­tle carts that show up at fes­ti­vals. Ket­tle corn, fancy pop­corn driz­zled with choco­late or sprin­kled with the white ched­dar that ends up all over your hands as you munch. It re­ally doesn’t mat­ter. One of my fa­vorite hol­i­day gift items to re­ceive, no lie, is one of those dec­o­ra­tive pop­corn tins. So if you were think­ing of adding me to your list, there’s a quick and easy so­lu­tion for you. I am not picky; I don’t care if the tin is one pro­mot­ing a car­bon­ated bev­er­age with white po­lar bears on it or some Thomas Kin­caid land­scape. I just care about the three fla­vor va­ri­eties of my fa­vorite go-to snack inside.

In fact, I used to buy those tins in bulk when they hit the stores; ev­ery­one in the family had one with their name on it each year un­der the Christ­mas tree. It ba­si­cally be­came a hol­i­day tra­di­tion, just like me bak­ing up a batch of home­made cin­na­mon rolls ev­ery Christ­mas morn­ing be­fore we could dig in to the trea­sures stuffed inside the stock­ings.

As a kid grow­ing up, pop­corn was also a sta­ple snack in our house. On those rare oc­ca­sions when the whole family would sit down to watch a show to­gether – some­times it was Walt Dis­ney, other times it was Emer­gency or Laugh-In – my dad would get the pop­corn ready. We had a cocker spaniel named Buffy who also loved pop­corn and knew the sound of my dad get­ting the pan out to pop up some ker­nels. Buffy would run into the kitchen and wait very im­pa­tiently while he lis­tened to the pro­ceed­ings. He was al­ways re­warded with some freshly popped pieces and then would head to the liv­ing room as we all munched, hop­ing we would toss a cou­ple more treats his way.

Come hol­i­day time, our kitchen ta­ble was turned in to a vir­tual pop­corn ball-mak­ing fac­tory. Ev­ery­one in town loved the pop­corn balls my mom and dad made – they had to turn out sev­eral batches to make sure that friends and family each got some to en­joy. The pop­corn mound would cover the kitchen ta­ble, with the corn syrup con­coc­tion then poured over … the mix­ing would be­gin and then my dad would fash­ion the sweet treats and wrap them in wax pa­per. They would get tied with red or green curl­ing rib­bon and sent off to the re­cip­i­ents. It was a sure sign of the ap­proach­ing hol­i­days when the kitchen ta­ble was a moun­tain of pop­corn.

Such a sim­ple thing, pop­corn, but it can prob­a­bly bring back mem­o­ries for ev­ery­one. Whether you got scared and ac­ci­den­tally tossed some out of the bucket at the movies or used it as home­made gar­land for hol­i­day dec­o­rat­ing, I’m kind of glad there is a month set aside to honor it.

Truth­fully, pop­corn was not at all what I in­tended to craft this month’s col­umn around but just as the ker­nels siz­zle in the pan when they hit that hot oil, the idea took hold and I was pow­er­less to stop my fin­gers from fly­ing over the key­board. Call it an homage to the power of the pop. It’s just good eat­ing. And good mem­o­ries.

Marg Jack­son is edi­tor of The Escalon Times, The Oak­dale Leader and The River­bank News. She may be reached at mjack­son@oak­dale­leader.com or by call­ing 847-3021.

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