Shanhaiguan, Mr Popcorn

by Caroline Killmer April. 05, 2008 1208 views

The pressurized popcorn process. Starring: Mr. Popcorn.

First Mr. Popcorn takes a big ol' scoop of popcorn kernels from a big ol' bag.

Here's all of Mr. Popcorn's essential gear. I'd estimate this net is about 5 meters long (at least). This is what's used to harness all the popcorn. You'll see why so much netting is necessary in a minute.

It's hard to imagine who came up with this device as a way of making popcorn.

Let's get down to business. Mr. Popcorn pours the kernels into the bomb. He adds a bit of sugar too.

Using a pipe for leverage, he cranks the lid shut, creating a sealed chamber.

Next in a feat of impressive coordination, he plonks the bomb over a fire and turns a crank (in this case the crank was actually a screwdriver) to rotate the bomb. The other hand cranks an air blower to stoke the fire.

Some of the construction workers in the area stop by the popcorn cart to gander at the process. Or at all us foreigners.

Mr. Popcorn spends about 10 minutes rotating the bomb over the fire. It allows plenty of time for locals and construction workers to gather around to discuss the details of the process. Sample dialogue:

Me: “Isn't this dangerous?”
Random popcorn enthusiast: “If it were dangerous he wouldn't be selling it!”

Now, here comes the part where you see how safe this really is.

The ten minutes are up. Mr. Popcorn lifts the bomb off the fire and puts it on a special rack, covering the opening end of the bomb with this rubber flap. He then tucks a bar in to the release and steadies the whole thing with his foot.

Kaboom! The popcorn, which has been doing nothing in the bomb but getting hyper pressurized, comes blasting out of the bomb and, with the sudden release of pressure, all the kernels simultaneously explode.

Kernels blast all the way down to the end of the net.

Mr. Popcorn dumps the kernels out of the net and puts them into a box with a wire rack in the bottom. He shakes the kernels around to get rid of most of the little husky bits.

Cost per bag of popcorn: 1 RMB.

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