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Healthy reasons to eat popcorn

Monday, 2 January 2017 16:36:57 Europe/London

Healthy reasons to eat popcorn

Popcorn is most certainly the snack of the moment but is that really a surprise? Popcorn doesn’t just taste great; it’s good for you too. The crunchy, salty (or sweet) treat is the perfect option at any given time. Not only will it satisfy those cravings but it’ll fill you up without that guilty feeling too. What’s more, not only is it low in calories but it’s also packed full of health benefits too. To cut a long story short, this delicious snack not only tastes great, but it’s good for you too. So let’s take a closer look at just some of the health benefits on offer when you indulge in everyone’s favourite snack – POpCorN.

Popcorn is packed with protein

Would you believe that ounce for ounce, popcorn offers you more protein and more phosphorus than crisps? It also happens to provide more iron than eggs and even Popeye’s favourite, spinach. It’s also great as a weight loss snack too, in fact, we’d go so far as to say it’s a weight watcher’s dream snack as it’s sugar free, fat free and low in calories. It’s just 31 calories per cup of air-popped popcorn.

On top of this, popcorn also happens to be a whole grain, which means it’s a great source of dietary fibre. Fibre is something we all seem to lack, with the vast majority of the population struggling to get their recommended daily allowance but when just one cup of popcorn contains a whopping 1.3 grams of the stuff, it makes it a whole lot easier. This healthy wholegrain also happens to pack a punch in the antioxidant department too, being comparable in concentration to fruit and vegetables. Recent studies have highlighted the fact that popcorn’s high in phenolic acid antioxidants, which happen to be easier for the body to absorb than anthocyanin antioxidants generally found in fruits and vegetables. 

Popcorn will keep you interested

Popcorn is nothing short of versatile. You can eat it plain, air popped or salty and sweet and even buttered but that’s not all. Gourmet popcorn flavours have quite literally taken the world by storm which means it doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for something savoury or sweet, they’ll be a popcorn flavour perfect for you. From Hot Madras to Toffee popcorn, there’s something for everyone. It’s also a great between-meal snack. It’s mostly air, which makes it very effective when it comes to staving off those hunger cravings (we all seem to get) without wreaking havoc with your diet.

Last but most certainly not least, it’s a delicious gluten-free snack. This not only makes it’s the go-to sncak for those looking for that gluten free option but it also makes it even more versatile as it can be finely ground and used in place of breadcrumbs for chicken or fish. It’s also great when seasoned and used in place of croutons on salads.

If reading this has peaked your interest…that’s if you managed to read this far without jumping online to order some of our gourmet flavoured PoPcORN, then we suggest you take a peek now. We’ve got some amazing flavours from traditional to savoury and we can’t wait for you to check them out.

Posted in General News from Empire Popcorn By Jamie McCoy

Popcorn Home Movies

Monday, 29 August 2016 00:36:41 Europe/London

enjoy Popcorn watching spy movie

Popcorn and movies are quite simply a no-brainer right? There have even been studies into our favourite film night accompaniment that have shown eating popcorn makes the movie experience 63.7% better than watching it without popcorn. Ok so these may not have been the most scientific of studies, but hey, do we really need any?

Everyone and their aunt knows popcorn is the best way to improve any movie-watching experience however, your standard butter or salted popcorn may not be the best match for the movie you’re watching which is why we thought we’d bring you the ultimate “popcorn at the movies” review. Not only will we be reviewing a great film as part of our Empire Popcorn Monthly Movie Reviews but we’ll also be giving you the perfect popcorn pairing. Today’s “popcorn at the movies” review will be about a Melissa McCarthy favourite in the form of “Spy”. So put your feet up and prepare for the perfect popcorn and movie combo.

Spy, a perfect popcorn and movie combo

With recent misfires like “Tammy” and “Identity Thief”, you’d be forgiven for thinking this latest effort for the American comedian would be another fail. Thanks to Melissa McCarthy’s indestructible charm and comic buoyancy, this film is firing on all cylinders. “Spy” is a roaring laughter-inducing, globe trotting action packed comedy from start to finish. McCarthy plays an eager to please desk jockey turned CIA agent who not only learns to wield a gun but deliver some killer one liners. Admittedly, Susan Cooper (McCarthy), an analyst stuck working in the basement at CIA HQ doesn’t seem too wired for action. She does however, seem super interested in the James Bond type character Bradley Fine, played by Jude Law.

Fine’s secret weapon however, turns out to be Cooper as she guides him through maze after maze, helping him escape from a number of close calls. Sadly for Cooper, Fine is suddenly assassinated by an arms dealer named Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) who happens to know the identity of all CIA agents and intends to kill them all. To enter the field without detection, Cooper is put forward, much to the anger of Richard Ford (Jason Statham – who also happens to be superb at sending up his own meathead persona).

Cooper is sent to Paris on a track-and-report mission with the intention of finding out information on Rayne and possibly Sergio De Luca (Bobby Cannavale), a terrorist who’s looking to buy the nuke for Al Qaeda related reasons. The agency’s own version of Q fills Cooper’s pockets with a number of high tech gadgets, all of which are disguised as hemorrhoid cream, stool softeners and other such products. Her fake identity is assigned as a frumpy Midwestern tourist, much to Cooper’s disappointment. Eventually, Cooper’s mission takes her from Paris to Rome to Budapest guided by the much loved Nancy (Miranda Hart) and accompanied most of the time by Aldo (Peter Searfinowicz).

Eventually, after one mishap too many, Cooper is forced to pass herself off as Rayna’s personal bodyguard that brings about a ravishing makeover that seems to have become McCarthy’s trademark. More importantly, it allows Cooper’s head-butting, expletive-throwing personality to come out in full force, something she didn’t even know she was capable of. Whether she’s dangling from a helicopter, or slamming a metal pot over the head of an angry assassin, McCarthy’s performance is a never-ending series of hilarious moments. For all of her verbal abuse and physically comical moments, there’s also some real emotion in this film too as she realises her own inner worth. In terms of this being an action comedy hybrid, “Spy” seems to get the balance almost perfect. Even when the violence catches you off guard, it still manages to work perfectly as they all manage to avoid the surreal silliness of any “Austin Powers” moments.

In keeping with this, the actors have completely mastered the art of inhabiting two very different worlds all at the same time, throwing out their funniest lines without breaking character. McCarthy has emerged as a comedic powerhouse in “Bridesmaids” and “Neighbours” and this film sees her as no less brilliant with her bright lips and coiffed hair. Jason Statham also provides a little lighthearted comedy, mocking his usual tough image to perfection all the while trying to convince Cooper she isn’t cut out for the role, all the while causing problem after problem.

Jude Law, who was clearly enjoying playing Bond for the day brings an extra dose of celeb power to an already awesome cast. The films wonderfully scenic locations across the globe and spy-thriller orientation have brought forward a highly polished film for a studio comedy, perfect for any Friday night POPCORN and MOVIE session.

The perfect popcorn and movie combo

Now while we could tell you that a night in with this film would be a night well spent, we know only too well that any movie night isn’t complete without quality popcorn so as promised, here’s our perfect popcorn and movie combo advice. With the film being such a fun thrill ride from start to finish we decided that a regular or even original type flavouring wouldn’t quite be enough. No, this film needs something a little extra in the form of spice. For this MOVIE and POPCORN NIGHT, we recommend some delicious Spicy Thai Popcorn. This spicy popcorn is guaranteed to match even the most foul mouthed moment in this film, and will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Have a fantastic PoPCorN FILLED MoVie NIGhT guys! Until next time…enjoy!

The science and history of our favourite snack – popcorn

Wednesday, 6 July 2016 13:06:41 Europe/London

Popcorn history

Ah, the magical sound of popping corn but what exactly is it about this wonderful snack that makes it explode into the fluffy, flaky goodness we know and love? Popcorn’s a specie of corn known as Zea mays everta and happens to have a particularly interesting characteristic. Unlike a great number of other grains, the pericarp or the hull as it’s otherwise known is hard and resistant to moisture, meaning moisture can neither get in or more-importantly, get out. Inside the seed is something called the endosperm, which is made up of hard, dense starch and a little water and oil. That little bit of water makes a huge difference when the popcorn is heated.

The water begins to turn to steam, however due to the impervious shell, it can’t escape. This means as the temperature rises, so too does the pressure inside and as such, the shell erupts allowing the starch inside to expand. Upon expansion, meeting the cool outside air it forms the airy foam we all recognise as popcorn. Within the “industry” there are two different types of flake. There are butterfly flakes, which are irregularly shaped pieces with wings, and then there are mushroom flakes which take on a more ball like shape. It’s the mushroom flakes that are often used for the prepackaged popcorn and confectionary.

The origin of popcorn

Did you know that POPCORN is actually one of the oldest snack foods known to man? It’s so old in fact that there’s even evidence of popcorn being found in the “bat cave” in New Mexico, dating back to 3600 BC. That’s a whole lot of popcorn history. The origins of popcorn however, aren’t so clear but it does seem to go hand in hand with domestication of maize by Central and South Americans. In fact, the English word “corn” is actually quite misleading as corn originally meant any cereal plant that was most used at the time.

To the English, corn was wheat but in Scotland or Ireland, corn meant oats. When European settlers went to the U.S, they found inhabitants growing what was then known as Indian corn. Despite European settlers in the new world encountering popcorn in Central and South America, there’s actually no evidence to suggest that it was present at the very first thanksgiving like so many believe. Instead the popcorn we know and love actually found its way to North America as Valparaiso corn and was brought by the sailors and whalers from the Chilean ports around 1820. It took just a few years before it began to be known as “PoPCoRN”, an Americanism that became popular the world over.

The courtship of the movies and popcorn

The relationship between popcorn and the movies first began for the simple fact that movie theatres in the 1920s were fighting a major PR battle. While movie theatres wanted to create a certain image, one of class and sophistication, with grand sweeping architecture and lobbies, they suddenly became unattainable for the common folk and too refined for the common man’s snack. Owners of movie theatres didn’t want to deal with the mess and aroma of popcorn, subsequently shunning it. As we know only too well today however, technology and economics can change everything and the biggest shift in film technology was the addition of something called synchronised sound. By 1927, you were able to hear what the actors were saying on screen without having to rely on title cards.

As a result, the movies suddenly opened up to an entirely new audience in the form of people who couldn’t read, more often than not, poor and young children. This new audience simply wasn’t attracted to the palatial surroundings of a movie house. Then sadly came the great depression and suddenly everyone in the movies were struggling, everyone except the street vendors who were suddenly busy as buttery popcorn became a goldmine. Popcorn was suddenly the cheap luxury that everyone could still afford in the darkest of times and as a result, it became the first snack smuggled into movie theatres under the coats of guests.

Popcorn became so popular in fact that you could easily make a living as a popcorn street vendor. The proof was most certainly in the pudding in the form of an Oaklahoma banker who lost everything in the stock market crash. To make ends meat, he resorted to selling popcorn in front of movie theatres and within a couple of years, he’d made enough money to buy a house, a farm and a shop.

After realising the true popularity of the snack and the potential earnings to be had, movie theatres began to jump onboard. Independent movie theatres were the first ones to reap the benefits of the popcorn gravy train. A manager, R.J. McKenna, running several movie theatres at the time began selling popcorn inside the movie theatre lobby where he found the buttery aroma boosted sales in a huge way (we wonder just how much sales would have boosted had they have been selling Hot Madras Popcorn too?).

By 1938, he was said to be collecting a whopping $200,000 in proceeds and let’s face it, for that sort of money, who cares if the carpets got a little messy. There was also another chain of movie theatres along the east cost that began experimenting with the snack in their smaller theatres, keeping the nicer, fancier theatres concession free. They later found the theatres selling the popcorn were making huge profits whereas those without, began dipping into the red. Popcorn was literally saving the movie business, so much so in fact that a Depression-era businessman gave this piece of advice, “Find a good place to sell POPcoRN and then build a movie theatre around it!”

 

Popcorn is great all year long

Wednesday, 15 June 2016 22:41:05 Europe/London

Popcorn Games

Here at Empire Popcorn Company, we know only too well that popcorn is great all year long. It’s amazing for parties making the perfect theme, it even has its own month (October) and it’s own day too (January 19).

It’s great for camping trips, after school programmes and of course, movie nights at home. For most though, thinking of ways to use popcorn, other than putting it straight in your mouth can be a little struggle. Thankfully, here at Empire, we’ve got plenty of ideas for you to incorporate popcorn into family fun, from games to arts and crafts.

Fun and games with popcorn

Popcorn relay races – this is great for kids parties. All it takes are two large bowls of popcorn and some smaller cups. Then have the kids run with a cupful of popcorn and transfer it to the bowl that’s sitting on the other side of the room.

The first team to finish wins, it’s that simple. With the potential for a lot of popcorn mess, it might be a great idea to play outside however, considering good old British weather, you may have more chance of playing indoors while keeping a hoover on standby.

Popcorn race

This game’s also pretty easy to put together too. All you need is a clean wooden or linoleum floor. Give each player a straw and then have them choose one piece of popped popcorn. Then the race is on! Each player must blow their piece of popcorn all the way to the end of the floor or wherever you choose to drawer the line. The first one to reach the end is the winner. This will really get the kids excited.

Popcorn guessing game

This one’s great for kids who love everything as well as the fussy ones. You’ll get a few squirming faces if the wrong flavour is picked out. All you need to do is either prepare a few different flavours of popcorn in separate bowls, or if it’s easier simply buy a few different gourmet popcorn flavours from us here at Empire Popcorn Company.

Once you have all the popcorn ready and waiting, then you’ll need to blindfold the kids ready for a taste test. Then have them guess which flavour they’ve got. You might want to ask the parents before throwing in a spicy flavour first.

Popcorn toss

Label lots of plastic buckets with numbers like 1, 5 and 10. Then place the buckets in a vertical line or triangle with numbers running from small to large. The players should stand in a designated line and then toss popcorn into the buckets. Add up their scores at the end according to how much popcorn they got in each scored bucket. The winner is the one with the highest score at the end. This is also great when played in teams.

Popcorn drama game

Ask all players to put themselves into a spot and squat position. The leader of the game will then take all the children through the task. Everyone needs to pretend to be a piece of popcorn in a big pan. While low down on the floor, they need to pretend to begin to pop as they slowly heat up.

The pan gets hotter and hotter and as it does, their “pops” get bigger and bigger. The players need to pop by jumping up and clapping their hands above their heads, shouting ‘pop’ as loud as they can. Make sure the children understand they need to start their popping gradually and in the end, the popping should stop. You can also create a variation of this by asking what they would do if the popcorn were to start burning. Here they’ll need to start ‘sizzling’ around the room.

Arts and crafts with popcorn

Popcorn art

Put out a nice pile of popcorn, sufficiently cooled of course and then give all of the children construction paper and art supplies. Then simply challenge them to come up with the most creative piece of art they can with the supplies they have. Instead of choosing just one winner, why not treat all the children to some delicious gourmet popcorn for their efforts?

Popcorn collage

For this you’ll need coloured glue, paper and popcorn. The more colours you can provide the children in both glue and paper, the better. Let their imaginations run wild as they paint a picture and press the popcorn onto the painted parts. As with the popcorn art above, we suggest instead of picking just one winner, let them all win some delicious Empire popcorn for taking part.

Decorate popcorn bags

This is probably one of the most creative of the popcorn arts and crafts games for the simple fact that the children get to use their creation afterwards too. For this you’ll need to purchase plain paper bags or even plain popcorn cups. Then it’s just a matter of letting the children enjoy themselves creatively with as many different materials as possible, from crayons to paint, markers to pencils and even stickers and glitter. The choice is entirely yours, it all depends on how messy you’re willing to let it get. There’s just one rule, whichever design they want to create, is up to them but they have to include the word popcorn to make it nice and clear that they’re popcorn bags or cups. Finally, when they’ve finished, and all designs have dried sufficiently, it’s time to fill them with popcorn and let them enjoy it out of their own bags and cups! What could be better?

For more information, or to order the most delicious gourmet popcorn around, contact us today here at Empire Popcorn Company.

Power up with popcorn

Wednesday, 30 March 2016 21:48:05 Europe/London

Power up with popcorn

Have you found yourself stuck in the three-meals-a-day cycle for some time now? Well, it might make you feel better to learn that you’re not actually alone. The vast majority of people get hung up on the widely accepted misconception that eating more than the traditional three meals a day constitutes as some sort of dietary failure. While it’s true that eating calorie-laden snacks between meals is no recipe for good health, limiting yourself to the ancient breakfast, lunch and dinner format isn’t doing you any favours either.

Forget three square meals a day and most certainly forget snacking in between meals. Your new healthy eating regime consists of six mini meals but while it may be super healthy, sitting down to eat six small meals a day won’t always be convenient which is why we’re going to show you not only why this style of eating habit is healthy, but just how healthy popcorn can make it more convenient, achievable and enjoyable too.

While it may sound like a contradiction in the sense of eating more and eating one of your favourite snack foods, but with a little focus and a little education, eating six mini meals instead of three large meals a day will not only add to your diet in terms of variety but will help you to feel fuller and much more healthy overall.

A healthy eating regime with a little popcorn fun

Your very first step in eating six diverse meals a day is to kick the word snack out of your vocabulary entirely. The word snack often conjures up images of low nutrient, high fat filled snacks like crisps and ice cream. These types of foods are simply empty calories and are void of any beneficial nutrition. You should then begin to focus on size, however you must be aware of the fact that doubling your amount of meals doesn’t necessarily equate to doubling your food intake. Instead of three larger sized meals, you’ll be opting for six mini sized meals. Finally, do your very best to make each mini meal an opportunity to give yourself a varied and balanced diet that will include the correct amount of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats along with your required vitamins and minerals. The health side effects of eating more meals are actually pretty varied in that you tend to consume a much greater variety of foods and are much more likely to meet your recommended daily requirements nutritionally. Eating more frequently will also help you to control your appetite, which in turn will help you to control your weight. By breaking up the three meals a day into six, you may also help to lower your blood cholesterol and risk heart disease.

Eating just three meals a day tends to create long gaps in between meals encouraging blood sugar levels to drop down low. When this occurs, the urge to reach for unhealthy snacks becomes all too much which is where we can often get into trouble. Grabbing a quick high carbohydrate snack might bring blood sugars up quickly but it’s likely they’ll do so too quickly and as a result, crash once again soon after leaving you yet again, craving those unhealthy snacks. Eating a number of small meals throughout the day however, as long as they’re balanced, will help to stabilise your blood sugar preventing you from any energy highs and lows which is the key to feeling at your best. The key to the “mini-meal” approach as it’s often known is to ensure that each meal packs a real nutritional punch as well as provide you with enough fibre to sustain yourself without adding the unwanted saturated fat and calories.

To keep your blood glucose levels steady throughout the day, simply focus on foods that will increase your blood sugar levels in a slow and steady manner. Include fibre rich food such as popcorn along with protein rich and a little healthy unsaturated fat in every single meal. This will then sustain your energy for a longer period of time. Be sure to keep your focus on diversity in each meal so whilst you want to balance your intake of lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats, your goal should be to enjoy a number of different items from each of the food groups. This is where our popcorn power bars and yogurt coated popcorn bowls will come in handy.

You may even find that pairing certain foods will also help to maximize the benefits of the six mini meals lifestyle. You can do that by coupling your vegetables with a little healthy fat, as this will help your body to absorb the vitamins and minerals from the vegetables much better. A great way to do this would be to drizzle a little olive oil onto your salad of mixed greens and sliced tomatoes. This makes it easier for your body to absorb the lutein in the greens and lycopene in the tomatoes.

Popcorn inspired mini-meals

The first mini-meal we’ll be looking at are popcorn power bars. Not only are they quick to prepare, but they’re also incredibly convenient to grab and nutrient dense. These are also brilliant to enjoy before or after a workout or other such physical activity. While we wouldn’t suggest a power bar to count as a full meal when eating only three meals a day, one or two power bars are the ideal on-the-go food choice when sticking to a six mini-meal lifestyle. They’re great for offering slow releasing energy and especially good when time is of the essence. They also beat other high fat and calorie laden food choices hands down in terms of nutritional value and flavour. These Blueberry and Pomegranate Power Bars are a particular favourite and full to brim with delicious flavours in an easy to pack and eat bar. They contain popcorn, which is of course a wholegrain, adding fibre and carbohydrates to your diet. The mixture of popcorn, oats, berries and nuts will fill you up and fuel you too taking you all the way through to your next meal. For this you’ll need 8 cups of popcorn, 1 ½ cups rolled oats, 1 ½ cup dried blueberries, ½ cup pomegranate seeds, 2/3 cup natural almonds toasted and chopped along with 2/3 cup honey, 2 cup brown sugar and 6 tablespoons of butter or margarine with 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted.

First line a pan with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. Combine the popcorn, oats, blueberries, pomegranates and almonds in a large mixing bowl. Combine the honey, sugar and butter in a small saucepan and cook over a low heat. Boil for two minutes and pour over the popcorn mixture, mixing thoroughly as you go. Using damp hands, press the mixture into the prepared baking tray and place in your fridge for about two hours or until firm. Cut into twelve bars. Dip the bottom of the bars into the melted chocolate and place on waxed paper. Refrigerate once again and then store in airtight containers.

Yogurt happens to be yet another fab way to introduce calcium into your diet whilst also creating a delicious meal filled with other essential nutrients such as wholegrain, fibre and vitamins. Water buffalos, goats and cows all make it. You can sip it, eat it and even drink yogurt making it hugely versatile. It’s so popular that even if you wandered in to the most remote fuelling stations you’re likely to still find a container or two of this stuff. Many cultures will claim that their yogurt was their very own invention although it’s likely just to be a variation of sorts. The question on many people’s lips however is just who braved that first taste of their soured milk?

Thankfully someone did and as a result we get to benefit from it. Many yogurts contain live bacterial cultures that break down the milk sugar (lactose) in order to produce the lactic acid. It’s the lactic acid that gives it the refreshing flavour. Your body needs a certain amount of good bacteria making yogurt a healthy choice. As mentioned before, it also offers calcium and protein too. The fact that it’s often thought of as the healthy, on the go snack also makes it the perfect pairing for popcorn which also happens to be quick, naturally low in fat and good for you. Our recipe below suggests peachy yogurt however you can experiment with your own favourite flavours to create a chewy, caramel like textured meal.

First of all, you’ll need to collect the necessary ingredients. These include 10 cups of popcorn, ½ a cup of dried blueberries (hopefully you’ll have some left over from the previous recipe) along with 1 cup of fat free peach yogurt, ½ a cup of sugar, ½ a cup of brown sugar and 1/3 of a cup of light corn syrup. Place your popped popcorn and dried blueberries in a large bowl and keep it warm. Next combine the yogurt, sugar (both white and brown) along with the corn syrup in a saucepan. Cook this mixture over a medium heat and stir continuously until it begins to form thick “ropey” like threads that will drip from the spoon. Once it’s reached this stage, pour over your popcorn and blueberry mixture, stirring to coat and voila.

There you have two very delicious popcorn recipes to introduce into your six mini meal lifestyle for a better, healthier you. If you’d like more information on the popcorn we provide here at Empire, whether it’s our raw kernels to pop yourself at home for all your popcorn recipe needs or perhaps our gourmet flavoured popcorn for those dark evenings when only a bowl of warm popcorn will do, please contact us today.

Source – Popcorn.org, Popcorn Power Up

Source – Popcorn.org, Yogurt Covered Popcorn No Whey

Source – Sharecare, Diet and Nutrition, Six Meal Diversity Deal

Health conscious Brits are opting for popcorn

Monday, 29 February 2016 21:48:11 Europe/London

Hidden health benefits of popcorn

Hungry but healthy Brits are now munching their way through tonnes of popcorn making it now one of the fastest growing savoury snacks on the market. UK consumers have been spending a whopping £3.3 billion a year on the popped corn snack with just a mere £1.6 billion being spent on alternative snacks. Could it be due to the news of popcorn’s healthy attributes along with it’s amazing taste that has sent the UK population flocking to companies such as Empire Popcorn Company in favour of grabbing the sugar filled sweet wrappers that line the local convenience shops counter?

The popcorn snack market has now grown as busy, if not busier, than most others as fast paced lifestyles now drive consumers away from three square meals a day and instead towards grab-and-go type foods and prepared snacks that can be eaten whether they’re sat at their desk working or enjoying the tight squeeze of the daily commute home. Despite the need for food that can be eaten at the drop of a hat, increasingly-health conscious consumers are opting for our favourite popped snack which is considered far less fattening than regular crisps, chocolate and biscuits. As a result of it’s newly discovered nutritional benefits, popcorn has virtually reinvented itself as a premium product rather than just the go to munch when enjoying a movie. Here at Empire Popcorn Company, we’ve been producing quality popcorn for over ten years and as a result, through hard work, the use of quality products and a lot of experimental flavouring, we’ve become one of the leading suppliers of popcorn in the whole of the UK. Our customers range from events management companies, to leisure centres and even your regular 2.4 family wanting a healthy and delicious snack for their Friday nights in.

When we talk about popcorn however we aren’t just talking about any old popcorn, we’re talking about gourmet popcorn. Gourmet popcorn truly has taken centre stage with people flocking toward the wonderful new flavours such as vanilla, hot madras and even sweet and spicy Jamaican. With this in mind, we have no need to question people’s motives for taste but statistics have also shown that people are flocking to our favourite light and fluffy snack because it’s considered healthy. It’s considered so healthy in fact that it’s now thought of as the perfect post workout snack, so just how healthy is it?

Hidden health benefits of popcorn

We guarantee when you’re finished reading this article, you’ll be ready to throw out the crisps, cookies and chocolate before reaching for your favourite bag of popcorn guilt free and why’s that? Well, it may have something to do with a large amount of evidence from recent studies showing that our favourite snack actually has a great number of health benefits. From whole grains to fibre, antioxidants to low fat content, this simple snack has it all. While smothering it in butter or chocolate may hinder those benefits a little, there are still a great number of flavourings you can enjoy, all in the knowledge that you’re feeding your body the good stuff it needs. Let’s look at those benefits a little closer shall we?

  • Whole Grains – whole grains are just that, the “whole” grain and that includes three different parts: the germ, the endosperm and the bran. The germ itself contains a number of healthy oils, vitamin E, protein, B vitamins and minerals. The bran contains the majority of the fibre as well as more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants while the endosperm is made mostly of starch with a little fibre and protein. Due to popcorn being a natural whole grain, it therefore provides a number of healthy benefits that derive from the great number of nutrients it contains. A national survey even revealed that popcorn eaters ate on average around 250% more whole grains than those who didn’t eat popcorn.
  • Fibre – fibre is perhaps one of the major benefits of whole grains. Popcorn itself provides around 4 grams of dietary fibre with every four cups. With most of the population only consuming half of their actual daily recommended intake (some even fewer than this), it shows just how beneficial this snack can actually be. Ensuring you have an adequate fibre intake which is 25g for women and 38g for men, you can help to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, help reduce cholesterol in your blood and even lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by helping to regulate your blood sugar better.
  • Polyphenols – a study in 2012 found the antioxidant concentration within popcorn was actually much higher than originally thought. It was so much higher in fact, that the concentration of polyphenols within popcorn actually surpasses that within a lot of fruit. The nutrient in question was found within the hull of the popcorn, which meant popcorn without the hull wouldn’t contain this healthy ingredient. If you’re wondering what it is that polyphenols do exactly then you’ll be pleased to know that they actually help prevent a number of degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes and even cardiovascular disease and neurodegenerative diseases.

Super healthy popcorn recipes

Most of you will no doubt associate popcorn with the movies. To head to the cinema and not enjoy your favourite popped corn snack is pretty much like heading to your local beach, putting on a swimsuit and sunscreen without actually taking a dip in the water. Popcorn is just part of the movie equation but that’s not to say it’s the only way to enjoy it. Popcorn is indeed irresistible perhaps because of its rather intoxicating aroma. It has a long history in the United States and with the emergence of gourmet flavoured popcorn, along with it’s numerous health benefits, it’s safe to say that it’s only getting more popular. With the huge amount of press coverage it’s now getting due to the health benefits it offers, people are inventing new and improved ways to enjoy it. Looking at it from a nutritional point of view, four cups of plain air popped popcorn contains 5g of fibre, just 122 calories and 4g of protein. On top of that it has a mere 1.4g of fat and 0.2g of saturated fat. On top of this it contains folic acid, magnesium, selenium and zinc. The problem with this however is the fact that plain air popped popcorn tends to taste…well a little tasteless. People want flavour and excitement, which is why they flock toward our fabulous gourmet flavoured popcorn.

For those who are on super strict nutritional plans such as athletes and fitness fanatics however, every single grain of food that passes their lips must be expertly measured and worked out. Every macronutrient requirement must be adhered to which is why a lot of them choose to purchase our quality raw kernels and pop their own popcorn at home. When it comes to making healthier popcorn at home, you have three options. You can air pop it and add a little butter or nice tasting margarine on top should you wish. You could even sprinkle a little cheese or Parmesan over it too. You could purchase our sweet popcorn and add a few chocolate chips if you’re looking for a chocolate fix that won’t set you back on your diet too much or you could pop it the old fashioned way, over a hob with a little oil in a heavy pan. If you choose to pop it yourself with oil then we suggest 1 tablespoon of oil for every half a cup of popcorn.

To keep things exciting if you’re going to air pop at home, then you’re going to need to think outside the box a little. Why not expand your options and instead of simply popping the kernels and sprinkling with a little sea salt (because let’s face it, you could just buy Empire Sea Salted Popcorn if you wanted to do that), why don’t you incorporate your popcorn into a trail mix using dried cranberries, roasted almonds and perhaps even a dusting of white chocolate powder? If that doesn’t float your boat, (perhaps you’re more of a savoury person) how does an Italian take on the usual buttered popcorn sound? To create this Mediterranean Magic Popcorn as it’s affectionately known you’ll of course need your popcorn kernels, a tablespoon of olive oil, 1 ½ teaspoons of Italian seasoning blend and 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese. Pop your popcorn as you normally would either air-popped or in a large pan with a lid and oil. Once it’s popped, place into a large bowl that you’d like to enjoy it out of later. Drizzle over your olive oil and then simply sprinkle over your Italian seasoning and grated Parmesan cheese. In between each ingredient we suggest tossing in order to stop the ingredients clumping together too much and encourage an even spread. You can also keep this in a sealable plastic bag and store for a maximum of two days.

If this all sounds too much like hard work then make things far easier on yourself and simply grab a tub or two of our freshly prepared gourmet flavoured popcorn. From Hot Madras Popcorn to fruity Lemon Popcorn, we have every flavour you could dream of. Contact us today for more information.

Source – Healthyeating.sfgate.com, Food, Healthy Eating, The Healthly Benefits of Popcorn

Empire Popcorn’s Monthly Movie Review Ant Man

Monday, 18 January 2016 13:26:22 Europe/London

Ant Man

Popcorn is without a doubt the most popular snack of choice when it comes to watching a movie so who better to review the movies you’ll be watching than the makers of your favourite popcorn? Whether you plan on chowing down on freshly popped popcorn from your own kitchen on a cool October evening or simply want the ease of gourmet flavoured popcorn delivered straight to your door for your family fun night in front of the goggle-box, the choice is yours.

Here at Empire we won’t just deliver to you the highest quality popcorn kernels and the best tasting gourmet popcorn made in the UK, we’ll also deliver a great movie review too that’ll hopefully make your movie night choice a little easier. Today at Empire Popcorn Company we’ll be taking a look at Marvel Comic’s latest release, Ant Man. On top of telling you about the latest cinema offering, we’ll be giving you the best popcorn flavour to compliment our movie of choice.

Grab that bowl of popcorn and prepare for some lighthearted action

When it comes to Marvel Cinema, it can be an awfully daunting place especially with the likes of Iron Man, Spider Man and the Avengers to contend with. It can also be a humourous place full of whimsy and lightheartedness and these are two qualities that come into play with Ant Man which we’d consider a real modest yet utterly enjoyable addition to the expanding world of the Marvel family.

While some grieved over the loss of the stylish and inventive stand-alone adventures that director Edgar Wright would have undoubtedly delivered (he left over creative differences), Peyton Reed managed to create a real off-the-cuff franchise starter with the help of the lovable Paul Rudd who plays the smaller-scaled yet bigger-hearted hero. In spite of what people first thought, in terms of Reed taking over, there’s no denying the fact that the movie indeed succeeds well enough as a genial diversion and at times a truly delightful one which is testament to the fact that sometimes less, really is more.

After a somewhat brief stint back to 1989 where Dr Hank Pym (an airbrushed and much younger looking Michael Douglas who plays a brilliant scientist) is introduced, the film settles into a loose and casual sort of vibe as it moves from present day California where we first meet Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) in prison. Scott is at the time residing in San Quentin due his time as a not so skilled cat burglar. Having spent three years behind bars, he’s now being released and subsequently picked up by his old cellmate Luis (Michael Pena).

Luis tries his best to convince Scott to head back to a life of petty crime but Scott is determined to hit the straight and narrow in a bid to reconnect with daughter Cassie who currently lives with Scott’s ex Maggie and Maggie’s cop fiancé Paxton who it would seem, isn’t the biggest fan of Scott. Paxton lacks any faith in Scott’s ability to turn over a new leaf which it turns out is pretty spot as after a short stint working in an ice cream shop, he’s back cracking open a giant safe in someone’s basement where he finds a rather beaten up looking black and red suit. Curiosity gets the better of him and he soon experiences the suits abilities first hand by shrinking to the size of an ant which not only sees him running around as a tiny ant size man, it also gives him cannonball strength and bullet speed thanks to atomic compression.

As it turns out however, both the safe and the suit belonged to Hank who devised the shrinking technology many moons ago to provide the U.S with the most powerful military weaponry. With the fear of it falling into enemy’s hands, it was shelved. That was until now, as the new head of Hank’s old company and his old student, reveals his plans to begin selling the suits and technology to the highest bidder.

Upon hearing this startling news, Hank decides he now needs someone willing to don the suit that has not only the stealth and agility but the talent for thievery which is why he led Scott to his basement thanks to a little word of mouth and good old fashioned gossip.

Cue a mid-movie training montage that shows Scott training with Hank’s daughter where he learns now only how to punch and dive through tiny keyholes in doors but also learns how to communicate with four different types of ant. Reed and his crew have undoubtedly put their own spin on a subgenre that was heavily defined by the likes of “The Incredible Shrinking Man” and “Honey, I Shrunk The Kids” and rather successfully too. The camera fluctuates from point of view and scale turning a single splash of water in the bath into a tsunami while a Thomas The Tank Engine train set offers a real tongue in cheek perspective when it becomes part of a rail-hopping chase that any western would be proud of.

Less than convinced of Scoot’s ability is his trainer Hank’s daughter, Hope, who’s played by Lost’s Evangeline Lilly. She would prefer to be put in the suit herself being unconvinced of Scott’s ability, immediately establishing herself as a possible love interest for Rudd. With Hope’s current boyfriend Darren Cross, Hank’s former student and current head of his company now planning to sell the technology to the highest bidder, the job of Ant Man is clear – thwart the schemes of Darren Cross before the “Yellowjacket” technology gets released into the world with potentially disastrous results. There are also a good few mentions of how the world is still reeling from the catastrophes of the “Avengers: Age of Ultron” which only goes to prove the world simply isn’t ready.

The fact that Hank was once himself the Ant Man and part of the founding members of the Avengers goes unmentioned. We’re shown in a few flashback promo videos him at work with his wife Janet, aka the Wasp. Janet’s absence however explains just why Hank and his daughter have such a tumultuous relationship, which only goes to highlight Scott’s determination to do right by Cassie even more. With Ant Man being placed in a rather “normal” setting in terms of broken marriages and single parents, he becomes less superhero and more amusing yet sentimental family man, making the film equally as family friendly with a few blockbuster elements thrown in for good measure. What highlights this even more is the fact that serious damage occurs to a house as opposed to an entire city.

A great amount of groundwork has been laid out for the future when Ant Man, needing to retrieve some all-important hardware from an Avengers base, finds himself fighting it out with Falcon played by Anthony Mackie. Beating his rather embarrassed opponent is much less useful than remaining unseen in the first place, which is only highlighted further by Hank and Hope. The vibe throughout the film is utterly playful and very unpretentious helped along with the upbeat Latin music to accompany the nimble yet largely visual style throughout. There is one hugely eye-popping and completely mind-bending sequence that shows us the dangerous effects of shrinking to subatomic levels which gives it that edge over every other fun family drama.

The down to earth side of Ant Man is thanks to Rudd’s rather charming performance as quite possibly the nicest, boy-next-door type cat burglar who happens to be the most unlikely superhero of all, even with his newfound capabilities and washboard abs. He refuses to take himself seriously and as a result, is a winning character and someone you can’t help but love. What perhaps makes this superhero even more approachable is the fact that the Ant Man helmet flips open and does so on a regular basis, giving us full view to the scruffy yet friendly human face behind the shield. Michael Douglas offers a great performance as the stubborn, old father and mentor who not only regards his daughter with affection but his protégé too. Darren, played by Corey Stoll, also helps bring a rather charismatic swagger to the role of the villainous Darren.

Even John Slattery reprises his Iron Man 2 role as Howard Stark while Martin Donovan provides the rather sinister role as one of Stark’s less trustworthy S.H.I.E.L.D colleagues and friends. Having said that, one of the most memorable performances actually comes from Pena as the trusty sidekick Luis with his cheeky, adorable grin and his brilliant way of telling a story in the most “round the houses” fashion. As a result, he comes across as an infectiously happy go lucky guy that seems suitably thrilled to have stumbled into the middle of a superhero movie.

Sweet popcorn is the ideal accompaniment

There’s no doubt that this film is a great one to see with the kids with sweet undertones along with fun and frolics, which means a popcorn flavour with equally sweet and fun elements is required. For this we suggest an oldie but a goodie in the form of Sweet Popcorn.

With its sweet flavours, this popcorn will be loved and adored by all the family, so prepare to share. Better still, grab a big tub of our sweet popcorn and make sure there’s enough for all the family and more. If you’d like more information on the tantalising tastes of our gourmet popcorn here at Empire or perhaps how you can pop your own, then please do contact us today.

Source – The Guardian, Culture, Film, Ant-Man

Put the ‘pop’ back into your lessons with popcorn

Wednesday, 25 November 2015 11:25:49 Europe/London

popcorn in education

As a teacher, the beginning of the year can always be tough when it comes to reining in that unruly class. They’re fresh from their holidays and the last thing they want is to be stuck in the classroom but what if you could put the fun back into your lessons by helping them learn in a new and rather inventive way? As one of the leading suppliers of popcorn, Empire Popcorn Company not only produce the most delicious gourmet popcorn but we also know that there’s more than one way to use the popcorn too – popcorn can be used educationally. We hope you find Empire’s guide to putting the ‘pop’ back into your lessons with popcorn helpful.

Popcorn history

The objective of this lesson plan is to give your students the ability the research or in the very least, improve their research skills. It will also teach them to create a timeline. For this they’ll need access to a search engine and art supplies for creating the timeline.

In this lesson, students will need to use the Internet in order to research the history of their favourite fluffy white snack – popcorn. This lesson will help them learn media literacy skills. It will also teach them that not everything they read on the Internet will be true, as they’ll no doubt come across a few contradictory points. While some articles will explain the lack of proof that popcorn was eaten at the Thanksgiving meal shared by the Indians and the pilgrims, others will tell a very different story providing the perfect discussion topic.

You may even explain the importance of only using information that can be verified by more than one source, even if it means leaving some parts of their timeline blank. Encourage your students to be creative with the timeline by adding imagery or even actual popcorn kernels.

Popcorn geography

In this lesson, children will learn to read and round off numbers. They’ll also be able to identify the different corn growing states in the United States of America as well as learning to create a visual map stating the top states for producing corn. For this they’ll need popcorn kernels, glue, an outline map of the US and access to the Internet.

In the lesson, you’ll need to explain to the children that corn is produced in the majority of the U.S. states. There are a total of 21 states that create at least 50 million bushels of popcorn each and every year. The aim is for them to use corn production data along with corn kernels to produce a U.S. Corn Production map. To make things easier, you may consider using a computer that has a projector attached. You may even want to print a map and then copy onto a transparent piece of film for your students to trace. To make things easier, simply print a copy of the map for each student before letting them get to work gathering data. Younger students will struggle to comprehend the large numbers within the data they find so we suggest using the popcorn kernels to make things easier.

If one state produces 1.7 billion ears of corn then perhaps use 17 popcorn kernels to demonstrate it within the outlines of that state on the map. If you’d like to extend this activity then instead of using individual maps, use a large map for the entire class and instead of using popcorn kernels, use pieces of popped popcorn. You could even spray paint some of the popcorn to make it colourful. Once you’ve recorded corn production statistics for every state, ask your students to create a graph in order to provide a quick visual reference point for the information cleverly displayed on the map.

Popcorn maths

The objectives within a popcorn maths class are to teach students basic maths concepts including place value, volume and estimating. Materials will differ for each and every activity but the vast majority are easily accessible.

Activity 1 is based on estimation. In this lesson you’ll display a container of kernels and simply challenge your students to estimate the amount of kernels in the jar. Have each student write down their own estimation before moving on to activity 2. Activity 2 is about counting and gathering an idea of place value. You need to appoint roughly 4 students to be the ‘collectors’ while the rest will be ‘counters’.

Divide the popcorn kernels evenly amongst the ‘counters’ and instruct them to count the kernels by sorting their share into groups of ten. When a student has ten groups of ten then they must raise their hand. A ‘collector’ will then go to that student’s desk and check the piles to ensure there are ten groups of ten. Place each pile of 100 kernels into paper cups and then count the amount of cups you have. If there are any kernels left over, have the counter partner with another counter to combine their leftovers. Finally, create a popcorn tally and count the total amount of popcorn kernels that were originally in the jar. 

Popcorn science

Through popcorn science, students will hypothesise about the results from experiments and then summarise the results through a written conclusion. For this you’ll need popcorn kernels for popping, a pan to pop your popcorn, oil, a stove, a test tube, some foil, a candle, matches, tongs and a needle (the needle is only for use by the teacher). Popcorn pops due to each kernel having a small amount of water inside of it. When the kernel becomes hot, the water heats up and begins to exert a certain amount of pressure until the kernel bursts.

The soft material inside puffs up and explodes. You can present to students a simple experiment to carry out, that will allow them to prove that water is inside of the kernel by using a test tube. Place one kernel of popcorn in the bottom of the tube and cover with aluminium foil. Make sure you poke a few holes in the foil. Use tongs to hold the test tube as you hold it above a lit candle. As it heats, the students should be able to see steam escape but where is the steam coming from? If you hold the popcorn over the candle for a few minutes it should heat up enough to burst and show them just how it pops.

When they learn that water is inside of each kernel, it may lead students to wonder about a few other things. Before starting each experiment, get them to write down their hypothesis. With each experiment, have the students count out 100 popcorn kernels. By using 100, it allows the students to easily convert the amount of kernels that don’t pop into percentages.

Experiment 1. The Control Experiment – Count out the 100 kernels. Heat the oil in the pan until it starts to smoke. Add the popcorn and quickly cover with the lid. Let it pop and then count the percentage that pops and the percentage that doesn’t pop. They may even like to watch a video of popcorn popping in slow motion to really get a feel of just what happens.

Experiment 2. Adding more moisture inside the kernel – Count out the 100 kernels and then soak them overnight in water. The next day, drain and pat dry. Ask your students what they think will happen before carrying out the same popping procedure used in the control experiment. When the popcorn has popped, count the percentages once more and compare unless the popcorn was just too saturated to pop?

Experiment 3. Popping popcorn at a low temperature – once again count out 100 kernels and heat the oil in the popper to a maximum of 250 degrees F. Before placing the popcorn in the pan, have your students hypothesise what they think will happen. Throw the popcorn in the pan and cover immediately. When the popcorn is done, count how many have popped and how many haven’t. That’s if they have popped at all. Did the lower temperature fail to heat the water enough perhaps?

Experiment 4. Warming popcorn before popping – Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F and place the 100 kernels onto a baking sheet and preheat for 90 minutes. Remove the kernels and let them cool before you ask your students to hypothesise the result of what will happen when the popcorn is eventually heated. Pop the popcorn just as you normally would i.e. as you did in experiment 1. Did the popcorn pop any quicker or bigger? Or did the preheating dry the moisture out of each of the kernels resulting in failure to pop?

 Experiment 5. Poking holes in the popcorn – if you’re doing this experiment with younger students then you may want to poke the kernels with the needle yourself. It’s also worth noting that puncturing 100 kernels could take a long time so you may want to prepare the kernels ahead of time. Have your students once again hypothesise what they think will happen, before popping as you normally would. Did the kernels pop as normal or did they pop faster? Or did the holes allow the steam to escape before pressure could build up and make them pop?

 The result of such experiments is to show just what a scientific process popcorn production actually is. The amount of water inside each kernel must be just so, as was proven in each experiment. Perhaps your students could come up with some more experiments of their own? 

To make your lessons even more enjoyable why don’t you pick up a tub of popcorn to enjoy whilst carrying out the above lesson plans. Perhaps you could even use the Strawberry Pink Sweet Popcorn mixed with our Toffee Popcorn to make the U.S maps more colourful? You could even flavour the popcorn you popped in the science lessons to make your students a tasty treat after their hard work. 

Source – National Education Association, Tools and Ideas, Lesson Plans, Popcorn Activities Grade K-5

Empire Popcorn’s Monthly Movie Review

Monday, 9 November 2015 14:22:25 Europe/London

 inside out movie popcorn

Here at Empire Popcorn Company we know only too well just how much you love our popcorn. We know that you love it as a late night snack, as a lunch box filler and even as a cheeky treat on your commute home but above all else we know you love our gourmet popcorn when you’re enjoying a Friday night film. Here we have one of our monthly movie reviews to ensure you don’t need to venture anywhere else but Empire for the ultimate movie night.

We won’t just provide you with the much needed snack, we’ll tell you which flavour makes the perfect accompaniment for the latest box office smash. Today at Empire Popcorn Company we’ll be looking at Disney Pixar’s latest release, Inside Out and telling you the perfect popcorn flavour to pair with the emotional roller-coaster ride that looks to be one of the biggest hits this summer.

It’s been nine years since Disney bought Pixar and nine years since the CEO Bob Iger put John Lasseter and Ed Catmull in charge of what was then a flailing animation division for Disney. Back then, it had been over twelve years since Disney had released a hit – something that was described by some as a stunning losing streak for one of the most iconic and world-renowned animation studios in the world. When Lasseter and Catmull took the challenge and came aboard, there were talks of actually closing Disney Animation itself and replacing it with Pixar entirely but this just wasn’t something that Lasseter would agree to thanks to his love of Dumbo; his favourite childhood film.

Catmull wasn’t far different spending hours as a child thinking of a life in the world of Pinocchio and Peter Pan. Despite the pressure from up top to close such doors, they kept them open and took what was to be an enormous challenge. Instead of replacing Disney Animation they rescued it and today it’s safe to say they succeeded in resurrecting Disney’s creative side and once again threw it ahead of its competitors. After what was deemed a very dark decade, Lasseter and Catmull made Disney Animation amazing again and big hits such as Big Hero 6 were the proverbial proof in the pudding and their latest offering isn’t looking to go anywhere but the top of the charts either.

Grab that comforting bowl of popcorn; you’re going to need it

It would appear that Pixar are at the very peak of their heartstring-tugging power with a movie so poignant and joyful that it’s managing to bring adults to tears every time. One of the best things a film can do is to catch your emotions so much that it actually makes you cry. In our lives we go out of our way in order to avoid hurt and upset but when it comes to the cinema, then two hours of heartbreak and dread somehow counts as a good time. This would tend to make the vast majority nod towards an epiphany; realising that the emotions we think of as negative aren’t actually negative at all but more natural and somewhat vital responses.

These are of course every bit as healthy as laughter and happiness. Never has a film managed to grip us tightly and play our emotions out so well since Bambi or even The Notebook - until now. In fact, this latest offering from Disney Pixar hasn’t just taught us that we do have emotions but it’s taught us that it’s ok to feel such emotions. It’s also shown us that Joy and Sadness aren’t opposite but allies. Although the idea may seem alien to some, it’s most certainly been expressed with elegance and warmth in Inside Out, forcing people to hide the tears behind their oversized box of popcorn.

The movie centres around two different places at once (kind of): San Francisco being the place where Riley has recently had to move to with her parents as well as in Riley’s mind where her different emotions are trying to make sense of this new upheaval. The emotions we meet are Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear. Joy is the leader of the gang of emotions. With her star like appearance, Joy shoots around the headquarters of Riley’s mind gleaming, dishing out orders and pep talks to her fellow emotions. Joy however clearly looks at the other emotions as assistants but that’s for good reason. From the day since Riley was born, Joy gained an intimate bond with her simply because Riley was always her parents’ happy little girl.

Inside Out starts quite ambitiously at the very beginning of our existence – birth. Joy steps into the spotlight and tentatively clicks a button in the HQ of Riley’s mind causing a reaction in the real world; Riley laughs. Joy watches with anticipation and sees her mother and father’s faces melt with sheer delight. Meanwhile, back in her mind, this reaction causes a golden bowling ball like object to fall down a shoot out of the darkness and fall at Joy’s feet. This is one of Riley’s memories and one of the very first building blocks that’s used to build Riley’s psyche.

The director behind this masterpiece is Pete Docter, who happens to be the genius behind classics like Monsters Inc and Up. Because of his involvement in this latest offering, Inside Out feels very much a sister film to both of these although neither it would seem come quite so close at being able to grip the emotional side of viewers than Inside Out with the majority whaling in full-throated sobs within 30 seconds of the start when the first memory is completed.

Much like the Monstropolis in Monsters Inc, the mind of Riley is joyous and a buzzing ingenious fantasy world. On top of this, it seems to explain to a lot of adults just some of their own memories of childhood and let’s not forget the everyday lives of the younger more child-like viewers who may see their own minds with far more clarity now. It’s due to the move of Sadness (wanting to become more involved with the running within HQ) and a possessive like strop from Joy that they both become accidently exiled from HQ and sent to the very farthest place in Riley’s mind - her long term memory. This leaves fear, anger and disgust left behind to run the show by themselves or in other words: Riley is now left to act like the average stroppy 11 year old girl that we’re all familiar with. Like any decent feel good film, a long journey of difficultly and eventual success evolves with Joy and Sadness trekking home. Their journey takes them through strange corners of Riley’s mind like the Dream Production Studios, the theme park like Imagination Land and the dark corners of the subconscious.

The various stops on this treacherous journey seem to make perfect sense for Riley. Both worlds are beautiful yet very differently realised. San Francisco, despite its actual beauty, is all muted with grey sunlight and fairly low-key occurrences. Riley’s mind however works much like a 1950s musical incorporating the 50’s looks and sounds of Hollywood. In a particularly beautiful sequence we see one of Riley’s favourite happy memories where she skates on the frozen lake with her parents near her old house.

We watch her spin and glide with the grace and ability of Torvill and Dean, whirling through the air. Surprisingly however it isn’t Monsters Inc that Inside Out would necessarily be compared to, rather Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar winning 2001 film Spirited Away as that too maps out the inner workings and subsequent turmoil of an 11 year old girl. It also happens to do so on a rather unique and fantasy like canvas. Inside Out however is a lot less ambiguous and strange although it’s ending is far from the all American happy ending that we’re used to or that Joy herself wants. The ending of the film gives us all a lesson; the pure bliss and happiness of childhood simply can’t last forever but we’re left with a feeling that actually, that’s ok and simply all a part of growing up.

If you’ve had a particularly stressful week at work then we suggest leaving it until another weekend to take the kids, unless of course you don’t mind blubbing into your popcorn in which case we’ve got a flavour to suit but then again, we have a flavour for every mood. If you’re feeling up to the emotional roller-coaster ride that is Inside Out however then we think the sweet and innocent undertones of the film can only be accompanied by a sweet and innocent popcorn flavour. When it comes to sweetness however, we have a wide variety here at Empire Popcorn Company. For those who have a real sweet tooth then our Toffee Popcorn or our traditional Sweet Popcorn would be the perfect choice.

For those who perhaps want an extra dose of sweetness and child-like appeal for such a heart warming movie then we recommend our Strawberry Pink Sweet Popcorn. Sweetness and light will always win out, even in a film that tells us the sheer happiness of childhood doesn’t always prevail but the fact that we’re reminded that it’s ok is just another reason to dose up on a little sweetness and heart warming feelings for our own satisfaction. So grab that popcorn and prepare yourself for some real heavy tugging on the heartstrings with Inside Out. 

Lunchbox popcorn recipes for returning to school

Monday, 19 October 2015 14:07:00 Europe/London

Lunchbox popcorn recipes for returning to school

With the summer over, it can mean only one thing and that’s time to get ready for the inevitable return to school. That means having bought the new uniforms and gone in search of the sales when you’re faced with children that just don’t want to go back, gathering the school essentials can seem like the easy part. Being one of the biggest suppliers of popcorn in the UK means our customer demographic spans a wide range but one of our biggest customer groups happens to be parents. Hearing from our customers isn’t just a great way to find out if they like the popcorn but a great way of finding out just how they choose to use the popcorn.

While some find popcorn to be the perfect Friday night movie treat, others have chosen to use it as a healthy way of spicing up their children’s lunch box. We’ve also heard a lot of parents like to use popcorn as a way of getting their children excited about being back at school by making exciting popcorn recipes that their children get to enjoy on their first day back. If you’d like to do the same then here are some fun and exciting popcorn recipes to make with your children on that all-important night before school.

Exciting popcorn recipes for their school lunchbox

Popcorn with brown butter and Parmesan - for this recipe you’ll need ½ cup of popcorn kernels, 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan. Simply pop the popcorn kernels as you would in a heated and oiled saucepan with a lid. Once it’s popped, set it to the side. Next you’ll need to brown the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Stir it with a wooden spoon just as it starts to foam. Take the butter off of the heat as it begins to turn golden brown and smell a little nutty. This should take around 1 minute. Then simply drizzle over your popcorn and finish by sprinkling with a little Parmesan and some salt. This recipe is most certainly delicious served straight away while it’s warm but it’s also really tasty once it’s cooled. Put some in a small Tupperware box and put it into your child’s lunchbox as a great alternative to chocolate and crisps.

Marshmallow popcorn bars – for this you’ll need 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and a little more to butter a dish. You’ll also need ½ a cup of popcorn kernels and 1 10-ounce bag of marshmallows. First you need to butter your baking dish and set aside before you pop your popcorn kernels in a large saucepan with a lid. Once the popcorn has been popped, set it aside and turn your attention to the butter and marshmallows. Grab a saucepan and over a medium to low heat, melt the butter and marshmallows, stirring until the mixture becomes smooth. This should take around 5 to 7 minutes. Then stir in the popcorn until it’s completely coated. Once you’re happy that the mixture and popcorn has been evenly spread, place into the prepared dish and let it set before you cut it into bars. This makes for the perfect chocolate bar replacement in any child’s lunchbox.

Pizza Popcorn – this recipe takes a little more preparation but is super tasty and perfect for children who love a savoury option. For this recipe you’ll need cooking spray, a 6-ounce tube of tomato paste, 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan, 1 tablespoon of dried oregano, 1 teaspoon of garlic salt, ½ a tablespoon of red pepper flakes and ½ a cup of popcorn kernels. You’ll also need a spice grinder too. Place the oven rack at the very bottom of the oven and then preheat to 200 degrees F. You can either butter a baking tray or line it with parchment paper and then butter on top of the parchment paper too. Spread the tomato paste out into a thin layer on top of the parchment paper using a plastic spatula. Place the baking tray into the oven and bake until the tomato paste turns very deep red in colour. This can sometimes take around 2 hours and may have the appearance of a fruit like leather.

Once you’ve allowed it to cool, tear the paste into small pieces and finely grind using the spice grinder. Add all of the tomato paste back into the spice grinder with the Parmesan, the oregano, garlic salt and pepper flakes. Grind all of it together into a very fine powder. You can store this in an air tight container for up to 5 days and you’ll be pleased to know there’ll be enough in there to make 6 whole batches of the pizza popcorn. To make 1 batch you first need to pop your popcorn kernels as you normally would in a large oiled saucepan with a lid. Then once it has popped simply add some melted butter and a few heaped tablespoons of your pizza spice. Then place a portion in a Tupperware box ready for your little one to enjoy when they open their lunchbox the next day at school.

Making your child’s first day back at school a pleasant one

Sometimes it just takes a few steps to make your child’s first day back at school a pleasant one. Not only that, it can help you as a parent to feel organized by taking the stress and worry out of it. Here are some of our top tips on making it an easy transition and putting yourself in complete control when this September arrives.

Heading back into a new school year can be intimidating for some but it doesn’t have to be if you as a parent can get yourself as organised as possible and try to make something fun to take their mind off of it. Making popcorn snacks is the perfect activity to enjoy the night before school and gives them a great reminder of their loving home awaiting them.

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