The Historical Photographs of China project team were delighted to see in a recently digitised album a sequence of three photographs showing popcorn being made the Chinese way, c.1938:
When this blogger was in Shanghai in 2011, I photographed popcorn being made in the same way (see below) – a method believed to have developed during the Song dynasty (AD 960-1279), originally for puffing rice (source: Wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popcorn), which describes the process as follows: The un-popped corn kernels are poured into a large cast-iron canister — sometimes called a ‘popcorn hammer’ — which is then sealed with a heavy lid and slowly turned over a curbside fire in rotisserie fashion. When a pressure guage on the canister reaches a certain level, the canister is removed from the fire, a large canvas sack is put over the lid and the seal is released. With a huge boom, all of the popcorn explodes at once and is poured into the sack. See also videos on YouTube, for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ta5jh9VglDw
I can vouch for the huge boom – the people waiting for their corn to pop kindly warned me about it, by miming ‘block your ears’! Popcorn is recommended this Blue Monday – and indeed any day.