01/30/2014 09:40 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Best Popcorn Method: Revealed (VIDEO)


The worst movie I've ever seen in a theater is District 9. How clever. How "ironic." What a commentary on humanity. A South-African culture many years beyond the brutality of Apartheid is invaded by aliens (who, surprise!) are subjugated, denied rights and forced to live in ghettos like black South Africans previously.

How do they think that stuff up?

And despite my utter contempt for this film., no matter that I would have walked out of the theater except my wife and I had gone with friends, and we got a baby sitter. The entire awful experience was made better by the presence of a large bucket of delicious salty popcorn.

Why do you think they serve popcorn in a movie theater? It's not because you'll get hungry during the two hours you're watching the film. No! After all, their are many many two-hour blocks of time where you're engaged in something where you don't get hungry.

The reason they serve popcorn in a movie theater is to distract you from how awful the movie is. Here. To prove my point, no one needed popcorn the first time they saw Casablanca. By contrast, during Avatar I ate my own weight in popcorn.

Anyway -- as the creator of the new six-hour science series, This vs That, I wanted to know what method of cooking would yield the fluffiest popcorn, so we conducted an experiment.

But first, let's rewind just a bit.

The exterior of a popcorn kernel is called the hull. It's impervious to moisture. Inside a popcorn kernel you'll find starch and 15-percent water. As the kernel is heated the moisture turns to gas... and when that gas has no where else to go, BOOM. The kernel pops. During that "explosion" the interior starch gelatinizes and becomes popcorn.


That's "mushroom popcorn" on the left and "butterfly" on the right.

In the big picture, there are basically two types of popcorn. The first form of popcorn looks more like a mushroom -- that's why it's called "mushroom popcorn." The second form of popcorn has ridges and "wings" -- that's why it's called "butterfly popcorn."

Mushroom popcorn is ideal for making caramel corn because the "mushroom" exterior is hearty. Butterfly popcorn is ideal for movie theater-style popcorn because its ridges and wings trap butter and salt.

Question: So, when a kernel explodes and goes from an inedible "rabbit turd" to a delicate lip smacking morsel of tender deliciousness, how many psi of force do you think are exerted?

STOP. DON'T READ ANY FURTHER! Until you get a # in your head.

Answer: Under heat, when a kernel becomes a piece of popcorn, it exerts 135psi. As a frame of reference, when a German Shepperd bites, it exerts 135psi.

To find out the best way to make popcorn - and by "best," we mean fluffiest -- This vs That conducted a series of breakthrough experiments. Plus, we broke out the calipers.

Here. Take a look.

Jon Hotchkiss is the creator of the new science series, This vs That. You can see the conclusion of the "Popcorn Experiment" along with the other This vs That episodes, HERE.