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Popcorn eating habits and what they say about you

Thursday, 19 February 2015 13:09:20 Europe/London

Popcorn eating habits and what they say about you

For years we’ve looked to popcorn as simply the king of snacks but what we didn’t realise is that in actual fact, popcorn can give people an insight into your inner most thoughts and feelings. New research very recently released, revealed that almost half of introverts, around 48% are popcorn pickers whereas extroverts have more of a preference for popcorn grabbing. Studies also revealed that perfectionists, whilst a mixture of grabbers and pickers were the least likely to be selfish when it came to sharing their favourite snack. It also became quite apparent from the study of two thousand popcorn eaters that this snack is fast becoming the nation’s favourite. Over 72% of the people in the survey consumed popcorn at least once a month with over 10% eating it on a weekly basis. The more outgoing people in the survey were the biggest fans of popcorn with nearly one in twenty eating it on a daily basis.

So where did this all suddenly come from? Dr Ben Sessa, a psychiatrist in Bristol believes there are very well recognised links between our eating habits and our personalities. Generally speaking, the slower eaters amongst us tend to enjoy routines and in some cases could be considered quite stubborn simply because they put them and their needs (for routine) before other people. The few who eat their popcorn a kernel at a time would also quite likely fit into this particular personality set. In contrast with this, the faster eaters are generally the ones who would be seen as less selfish and put others first. They’d also be seen as quite extroverted due to the social nature of their behaviour.

The question on most people’s lips is simply how this information can help us? Well if you’re interested in getting to know a potential partner a little better than why not take them on a date to the cinema and buy them a bucket of popcorn? This time however, instead of getting wrapped up in the storyline of the film, take a look at your date and just how they’re eating their popcorn. As bizarre a proposal as this may sound to some, the survey also revealed that there was a real distinction between the two sexes and their popcorn eating habits. Women were seen to take a much more considered approach when it came to their consumption of popcorn, eating each popped kernel at a time whereas men tended to be more chaotic. Their carefree manner saw them enjoying handfuls of popcorn at a time, throwing huge amounts toward their mouths and hoping for the best in some cases.

That’s not all the survey revealed about the differing sexes however. Rather interestingly the results showed that men are actually just as considerate as women, more considerate than we give them credit for in fact. A whopping 96% of men would quite happily share their popcorn, which worked out at the same percentage as women. In spite of the differing eating habits between men and women, their feelings surrounding the snack remained very much the same with both men and women feeling more than satisfied and very content once they’d eaten the white fluffy snack. The main reason for such good feeling was linked to taste which showed sweet popcorn coming out as the overall winner across genders and personality types.

The survey into popcorn and personality traits also strengthened the current trend of bringing popcorn into the home. With only a quarter of the people studied revealing their favourite place to eat the snack being at the cinema, the remaining three quarters choosing their home as top spot. Is this down to the limited amount of flavours available at the cinema with a wide variety of gourmet flavours available for delivery straight to your door from us here at Empire or could it simply be down to convenience?

Dr Ben Sessa went on to explain that his theory lay in the rise of online entertainment. With a growing number of online entertainment and shopping now becoming available it allows one to be a lot more individualised. A person can now regulate their environment with new technology and create their own personal space. Home based activities are now easier than ever so why wait to go to the cinema to get your popcorn when you can just as easily click a few buttons online, have it delivered and eat it at home? Living in the culture that we do, we seem to spend more time observing others than actually doing and this rather fast increase of multi-media culture gives us the perfect excuse to stay in and enjoy popcorn when we want.

If you happen to be someone who’d prefer to stay in rather than go out then why not take a look at our website and see the range of amazing gourmet flavours you can choose from. What’s more, not only will you be able to select your perfect amount of gourmet flavoured popcorn that’s been hand made but you’ll also be able to have it delivered straight to your door ready for the perfect movie night in with the family or even simply for yourself. Find yourself falling into the category of non-sharers? Just order some for everyone else and a separate package for yourself. No matter what personality people have, it would seem they all have one thing in common and that’s enjoying popcorn so stop waiting for the cinema and take a look at what’s available online. 

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Our guide to buying the perfect popcorn machine

Thursday, 12 February 2015 22:02:38 Europe/London

Our guide to buying the perfect popcorn machine

Popcorn is indeed a popular snack all over the world. It tastes amazing, smells even more so and brings huge amounts of fun to cinemas, fairgrounds and homes all around. With so many now wanting to enjoy the experience of popping their own popcorn at home with our quality unpopped kernels, we thought we’d give you the best guide to buying the perfect popcorn machine.

With so many to choose from it can seem a little daunting knowing which one to get for your home. Some come with convenient little accessories like measuring cups, serving bowls and even flavour dispensers. Are you someone that likes convenience or enjoys the experience of flavouring the popcorn the old fashioned way? Would you like the novelty of owning a vintage replica or do you want it to match your contemporary décor at home.

Popcorn machines now come with so many different components and in so many different styles that you really do need to ask yourself these questions before taking the leap and making that purchase. Do you want a warmer tray to keep it at a nice temperature whilst you potter around setting the movie up and do you want glass panels so you can see it popping? Some even come with stirring arms that get you a little more involved in the process.

A rather important question to ask yourself however is whether you’re going to go for a hot oil popcorn machine or an air popper? A lot of popcorn lovers prefer the familiar and quite traditional taste of the oil popped kernels whilst others are more focused on the health benefits so it’s just a question of asking yourself which bracket you fall in to.

Without the added oil, popcorn is a seriously nutritious snack offering pure and simple whole grain. It’s an excellent source of fibre and with so many seasonings available from us here at Empire it can be just as tasty so the choice really is yours. The other added benefit of an air popper is that it’s much easier to clean. The lack of oil also means it costs less to operate too however both machines produce consistently fluffy and crunchy popcorn.

There are of course a number of other considerations when choosing your preferred machine and these include construction, durability, wattage, desired output, space on your worktop, safety features and of course price. When it comes to the cost of popcorn machines, it varies widely all depending on the size, style and construction of machines. Here are some of the more common models you’re likely to come across in your search:

Table top vintage machines

These are usually oil poppers but there are a few air poppers available, you just have to have a good scout around. Most are quite small and fit easily in the kitchen or on the dining room table. They’re usually styled to mimic the old vintage carts and theatre machines and usually feature the warm light and butter dispensers too. Safety features include cool touch handles and accessories are usually measuring cups and scoops etc.

Hot air poppers

These are considered healthy and economical. At home kitchen models are crafted with function in mind so may incorporate a more simple design that makes things clear and obvious such as a directional chute that leads straight to a serving bowl. Air poppers are usually taller and take up a little space but as stated before they’re ideal for the health conscious amongst us. More often than not they forgo the more advanced features or accessories though you can find some with inbuilt butter dispensers. They’re made from metal or plastic and are ideal for moderate home use.

Freestanding popcorn machines

These are intended for more of a party piece than constant home use unless you of course have a large house in which case this offers great style and a large output for bigger families on movie night. It also preserves worktop space too.

One of the final things you’ll definitely want to consider before making your final decision is just how much popcorn you want to produce and how quickly the machine can do it. If you’re only looking to spoil the wife and kids on the weekend movie fest then a 4oz popcorn machine should be absolutely fine but if you’re considering bringing the machine into action when you have a few house parties then we’d suggest stepping it up to a 6oz to avoid straining the machine and leaving hungry guests waiting.

If the purse strings are feeling a little tight or you’re simply someone who likes to recycle then why not take a look at some second hand machines? A used popcorn machine offers an affordable alternative especially if you’re looking at larger ones or even commercial grade machines. Taking a look at the reputation of the seller and manufacturer should help guarantee a quality purchase for a much lower cost.

Whether you want them for at home or even in the office space, a quality popcorn machine is a relatively simple device that will deliver years of great performance. With minimal maintenance required and low running costs, they can offer good old fashion fun for all the family or even the staff. Then all that’s left to consider is just how big a bag of unpopped popcorn you’ll need to purchase from us, along with flavourings to make your mouth water. For more information on what’s available from us here at Empire, just click here. 

Is popcorn the healthiest and most popular snack of the century

Friday, 23 January 2015 11:35:55 Europe/London

Is popcorn the healthiest and most popular snack of the century

People all over the world know all about the legend that is the kernel. When heated it completes the finest transformation into fluffy and delicious popcorn, the most readily consumable snack. Without that familiar smell as you walk through the doors, the cinema experience just wouldn’t be the same, nor would those oh so cosy movie nights on the sofa.

Although it has most certainly evolved over the years, did you know that popcorn is actually an ancient snack that archaeologists and scientists alike have been discovering as far back as nine thousand years? Now days when you scan the supermarket shelf you’ll be confronted with a wide selection of popcorn though none so impressive as ours here at Empire. Let’s just say there’s a reason we’re one of the biggest suppliers of popcorn in the UK.

The phenomenon of popcorn is most certainly mirroring that of crisps, when a decade ago it suddenly became exotic and somewhat gentrified. The public loved and adored it and have never looked back since. Unfortunately when it came to the lust of crisps, it meant the public also gained a lot of weight as a result too. Popcorn on the other hand is a healthy and fun snack; allow us to explain more.

It’s considered healthier than fruit and vegetables

Popcorn is indeed healthy. It’s also incredibly close to nature in that if it’s dry popped with no oils, fats or sugars present then you’re essentially just eating a wholegrain and nothing else. The facts speak for themselves too with a single portion of popcorn containing more antioxidants than all fruits and vegetables most people eat in a day. Antioxidants are great as they keep molecules that are harmful to our cells in check. Popcorn also contains a lot of vitamins like B,A,E and K along with a huge amount of iron, potassium, zinc and polyphenols. All of which contain cancer-fighting antioxidants. On top of this, a single cup of air popped corn has a mere 31 calories, compare that to a pack of salted crisps weighing in at around 128 calories and you can see why popcorn has suddenly become so attractive of late. Popcorn is quite clearly the better option.

Steer clear of the supermarket shelf and you’ll be doing great

Here at Empire we use only the very best ingredients when it comes to making our popcorn. We also do our utmost to avoid additives and anything that’s remotely related to them, leaving you to enjoy a tasty healthy snack. Even our candyfloss comes with a one month shelf life as we refuse to pump it with preservatives in order to make it last longer. Unfortunately as is the case with a lot of commercial popcorn brands that mass produce the product, they’re often chemically overloaded. It may taste ok (though we guarantee the quality isn’t comparable to the delicious popcorn we produce) but it’s also crammed full of unpleasant toxins and chemicals. What may be called butter is simply another chemical that you’ll be putting in your body. To be on the safe side we suggest simply buying our delicious hand made gourmet flavoured popcorn or better still why not try what we’re about to explain next?

Buy kernels from us and pop yourself

Many of us take popcorn for granted leaving us unaware of just what an amazing natural marvel it really is. The process is very aptly named because it really does pop like an overinflated balloon, the only difference is that instead of air, it’s superheated and pressurised causing the hull that’s full of steam to quite literally pop. It’s such a fun process too that there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a go and enjoy cooking it yourself. Here at Empire we supply bags of unpopped kernels ready for you to get your hands on as well as a number of different flavourings that you and your family will love. Better still you could even experiment with your own. All you need is a stove and a pan with a lid. It’s super cheap and super fun so why not give it a go with your children today?

It’s a great diet food

Hunger pangs are indeed a nuisance especially when you’re dieting, trying to lose weight or just simply trying your best to lead a healthier lifestyle. Popcorn in its light and fluffy form is a great way to banish those annoying cravings and give yourself a little health boost at the same time. As humans we need a wide range of foods to remain healthy but popcorn can most certainly be a big contributor to your overall health, whether you’re buying our gourmet popcorn or popping your own at home. Popcorn really does have so much to offer, not least its great ability when it comes to fending off those diet wrecking hunger pangs. This is in part due to its glycaemic index (GI) where it’s been highlighted as a good GI because it doesn’t cause a sudden spike in blood sugars leaving you feeling fuller for longer. With a GI of 55 it ranks high in the good snack guide especially when you compare this to two slices of white bread with a GI of 88. Don’t forget however that moderation is key when it comes to all foods and overindulgence could hinder its healthy reputation.

If you’d like more information on the amazing gourmet flavoured popcorn we hand make here at Empire or even our freshly made fairground candyfloss then just click here. 

Make your own wonderful creations

Monday, 19 January 2015 22:11:18 Europe/London

Make your own wonderful creations with popcorn kernels

You’re probably wondering why we’re telling you about making your own popcorn at home especially when we have so many wonderful flavours on offer here at Empire but did you know we also sell popcorn kernels too? You can buy bags of unpopped kernels as well as a number of delicious spices to flavour until your hearts content.

When it comes to making popcorn at home, sadly the majority buy a bag from their local supermarket and throw it in the microwave but we think you’re missing out on all the fun. Popcorn is by far one of the UK’s favourite snacks and not just because it tastes amazing but because it’s so much fun to make too. Here at Empire we’re going to begin by teaching you the true art of making popcorn the traditional way, on top of your cooker. Whilst buying a bag to pop in your microwave might be quick and easy, it isn’t anyway near as much fun as popping it yourself.

The recipe is really simple!

The recipe for perfect popcorn is just as expected, pretty simple. All it requires is oil, popcorn and a little heat. The rest like salt, butter or seasonings are all optional but we’ll let you know what’s available a little later. We suggest using around three tablespoons of oil but in all honesty this can probably be estimated and it wouldn’t do any harm if it were a little more or a little less. What you do need to measure out correctly is the popcorn. Having too much will blow the lid of the popper and make a rather unsightly mess but too little will leave the corn swimming in excess oil and that’s not what you want. We suggest roughly half a cup of corn per person. The oil will serve as a way of conducting the heat into the kernels in an efficient manner by providing a better path for the heat to transfer from the bottom of the popper/saucepan to the popcorn kernels. It really doesn’t take much oil for this to happen. What you can also try is flavoured oil as not only will it help with the popping but it will help flavour the popcorn too.

Make sure to heat your kernels evenly

The trick to producing the perfect popcorn with no burnt kernels and as few unpopped ones (old maids) as possible is making sure all the kernels are heated evenly so they start to pop at the same time. If they’re heated unevenly the first to pop will start burning before the last have had a chance to pop, leaving you with both burnt and unpopped popcorn and that’s not what you want. One way to get an even heat is to use a heavy and thick popping vessel that distributes the heat evenly and the other is to use the complete opposite, a lightweight popping vessel. If you choose to use the latter then we suggest keeping the oil and popcorn constantly moving and agitated to prevent uneven heating and cold spots that you usually get with a thin pot. There are hundreds of popcorn making machines available and it’s completely up to you whether you choose to use one or not.

Tips to get your popcorn just right

Once all oil and popcorn are in the container we suggest placing it on your biggest burner and turning the heat on the highest setting. Agitate the popper constantly as it heats up by shaking it in the beginning. If it begins to get hot then oven gloves can help but whatever you do, do not remove the lid otherwise you’ll have popcorn popping everywhere in your kitchen. The popping sound will become tremendous as you’ve hopefully ensured an even heat, which means they should all start popping together. When the crescendo of popping noise is reached you can then turn off the burner and just let the residual heat finish the job. In only a few seconds all of the kernels will have finished popping and the noise will die down to pretty much nothing. This is when you can move the popper/pot from the stove completely and give it another shake or two. Then simply remove the lid and pour the contents into a bowl before any of it burns in the remaining heat.

Use clarified butter if you can

Then it’s simply down to you if you want to add salt to taste or a little butter perhaps. If you like to use real butter on your popcorn then we suggest using clarified butter otherwise you risk turning your popcorn into hard buttery lumps. Here at Empire we can make things even easier for you with our popcorn flavourings we have available. From butter salt popcorn seasoning, to better buttery salt popcorn seasoning along with a selection of glaze pop caramel frosted popcorn mix; we have everything you could ever need. What’s even better is that all you need to do is simply put it in the popper with your kernels and let the flavourings work their magic.

Your one stop shop for popcorn ingredients, Empire Popcorn

It couldn’t be simpler to make your own popcorn at home with your very own flavourings and you can buy all of the essential ingredients here at Empire. Have everything delivered straight to your door knowing that not only is it the best priced product but it’s also the best quality too. If you’d like more information on the hand made sweet popcorn we have available or perhaps some of our other accessories we have then just click here for more information. 

The health risks associated with microwave popcorn

Tuesday, 30 December 2014 10:58:01 Europe/London

The health risks associated with microwave popcorn

Popcorn, one of the most widely loved snacks the world over. From salted and sweet to some more fabulous flavours that we just happen to boast here at Empire, the choice seems endless but that’s maybe why it’s loved so much. Unfortunately not everyone looks for the best quality when it comes to popcorn, instead opting for microwave popcorn but you might have heard recently that microwave popcorn is proving to be quite unsafe. After recent studies, shocking evidence has come to light that highlights not only the dangers that could affect us on the outside but some rather startling evidence to suggest our health could be at risk massively. The most common discovery is the link between cancer and microwave popcorn.

Whilst there may be no hard evidence behind the rumour that suggests popcorn contains chemicals proven to cause lung cancer, there is a chemical used within the bags themselves that’s not exactly friendly. This non stick coating that’s painted on the inside of the popcorn bags decomposes when it’s placed under heat and begins to produce a compound named Perfluorooctanoic acid or C8 for short. It’s been associated with increased risks of certain cancers (including liver and prostate cancer) so much so that environmental agencies now class it as an official carcinogen. The most frightening thing of all is the fact that this isn’t that recent a discovery. Way back in 1993 an article in the Journal of Occupational Medicine reported that factory workers exposed to it had increased cancer mortality.

Whilst it might not be a cancer, the link between microwave popcorn and lung disease is just as worrying. A chemical called diacetyl is used within the flavouring of microwave popcorn to give it the butter flavour we all know and love. Sadly, as much as it creates a nice enough buttery taste, it also gives rise to bronchiolitis obliterans or as it’s known amongst the factory workers ‘popcorn workers lung’. A study carried out in 2007 reported the lung condition resulted from scarring of small airways in response to the chemical irritant diacetyl. Whether it poses as big a risk to ordinary consumers remains to be seen however there was a case where a total of $7.2 million was awarded to a man who claimed his love of microwave popcorn led him to develop popcorn lung. Although this is merely one of only a handful of cases throughout the world, you still need to ask yourself is it worth the risk?

Aside from the horrendously dangerous chemicals that are added to microwave popcorn, we also have the huge amount of fat, salt and other preservatives to contend with. An average bag of butter flavoured microwave popcorn can contain anywhere around 24grams of fat, roughly 600 milligrams of salt and a whopping 600 plus calories. Although it might beat a large box of popcorn that you’d normally eat at the cinema that can contain around 60 grams of fat, it’s still a far cry from the healthy snack we’re told it is.

In addition to the ingredients it contains that have been proven to be less than beneficial, there are two other aspects of microwave popcorn that consumers have to contend with before getting their hands on it. These include burns and tooth damage. The process of microwaving the bags of popcorn causes a lot of steam to accumulate in the bag. This has actually been known to cause severe burns not just to the hands but to the face too. When a freshly microwaved bag of popcorn is open, the steam bursts out and it’s at this point where it becomes dangerous. Unless you angle the bag away you risk causing damage to your corneas like the many other cases there have been in the United States. There have also been a number of cases where people have had their hands burned when trying to open the bags. Without warnings on the bags, this becomes quite a risk with a potential for serious injury.

Tooth damage is another major problem amongst lovers of microwave popcorn, as most bags will unfortunately have a few unpopped kernels. Those hard pieces can chip, crack and even completely break teeth as well as vulnerable fillings. They’ve also been known to become stuck between teeth causing gum irritation too.

In spite of these rather horrific findings when it comes to microwave popcorn, it needn’t mean you can no longer enjoy your favourite snack and it needn’t mean you can’t enjoy it as a healthy snack either. A single serving of popcorn has twice the polyphenols of most fruit and vegetables so we’d say it’s imperative you still enjoy it. The key to enjoying healthy popcorn without the risks and perils is simply to avoid microwave popcorn and opt for our delicious gourmet treats instead. Here at Empire we supply a variety of different hand-made gourmet flavours of popcorn from sweet to savoury. We offer traditional flavours as well as a number of exotic and different ones for you to try. On top of this we also supply unpopped kernels if you want to pop your own from fresh, the choice is yours. We’re proud to use healthier rapeseed oil as well as only additive free fine sea salt in our popcorn and know that it’s this and our green friendly popping processes that make it not just healthy but delicious too. 

If you’d like to try some of our amazing hand-made popcorn that’s free of dangerous additives then contact us today. We’re happy to deliver UK wide straight to your door, ready for the perfect Christmas movie night indoors.

Posted in Empire Popcorn News By admin

A little background and history on our favourite snack, popcorn

Tuesday, 23 December 2014 13:48:20 Europe/London

Popcorn truck

When we think of popcorn we generally think of our very own Empire Popcorn, freshly made and filled to the brim with gourmet flavours but did you know, popcorn has actually been around a lot longer than most of us first thought?

In spite of the huge worldwide demand that there is today, before 1912 less than 7,700 hectares of farmland was dedicated to growing it. The invention of the electric popcorn machine and the microwave however increased demand hugely for what was known as prairie gold. Today, because of this, annual consumption exceeds well over a billion lbs. which is huge.

It wasn’t all light fluffy and delicious snacks for the taking though. Corn actually began its slow and steady evolution as grass where it was cultivated by the Aztecs in Central America and Mexico and the Incas in South America.

The Aztecs would decorate their Gods with strings of popcorn, not unlike the Indians who also used popped kernels on grass strings to decorate themselves personally. Archaeologists have even found popcorn in caves in New Mexico that have dated back well over 5,600 years. From this and other such findings, scientists believe popcorn originated roughly 8000 years ago in Mexico.

Popcorn officially crossed over into our western culture at the first ever thanksgiving celebration in the USA. Popular legend has us believe that the Quadequina, the brother of the Indian Chief, brought a bag full of popcorn to the harvest celebration. They also believe the Indian method for popping the corn was most likely discovered by accident due to the mysterious exterior of the kernel not giving a single hint to the soft treat inside. It may have happened when the kernels were thrown into the fire during rituals, with the popcorn then flying out when they popped.

This of course is theory and the only definite answers we have to early poppingsare from the Incas. This is due to their clay pots being found with popped corn still inside them. Apparently they heated sand, put it in the pots and then put the corn on top. The pot would be covered and the heat from the sand would eventually pop the kernels. The heavy sand remained at the bottom of the pot and the light fluffy popcorn remained at the top ready for the picking, very smart indeed.

Popcorn history 2

By the time Columbus discovered the American continents there were over 700 types of popcorn being grown. Popcorn soup was a favourite way to use the grain and in some places even popcorn beer was made. Explorers found ornamental necklaces, bouquets and headdresses too. We bet you never realised just how versatile your favourite snack could be. Eventually popcorn became quite a ritual in cabins and other homes. It would be popped in the fireplace and seasoned with grease or butter (depending on your wealth) and then shared by the entire family.

They were at this time also used as teeth in carved pumpkins at Halloween and strung on long lengths of string as decoration for the trees and home at Christmas. It was also the go to snack for banjo playing too. If that’s not astonishing enough, popcorn was also used in the first ever creation of cereal where milk and sugar were poured over it. This was most popular south of the Carolinas.

It wasn’t until 1890 that people stopped growing it in their back gardens for their own enjoyment and began looking at it in a more commercial light. It was considered a legitimate cash crop but it wasn’t until automatic poppers came into play that it really took off. The first one was steam powered but a new glass sided gasoline burner eventually become popular in 1890. Right about the same time it became quite a commercialised snack…coincidence? This became a popular feature at the circus, the carnival and local fairs.

Popcorn today however is probably most associated with the cinema, and for good reason too. Back in 1925, when the electric popcorn maker was created, popcorn vending machines finally moved from off the street to inside the actual theatres where it made more money than the film itself. Popcorn’s popularity increased further still during the Great Depression in the 1930s when it was one of the very few affordable luxuries coming in five cent bags.

During World War II, popcorn made its first trip abroad when it was shipped over as a treat for American servicemen. In 1945 a man named Perry Spencer discovered the energy of the microwave and just how effective it was at popping popcorn. Couple this with the introduction of the television to homes and the rein of popcorn began. In the 1970s and 1980s there was quite literally a boom in electric poppers and microwave poppers as the videotape brought movies of the theatres to homes. The desire for our favourite snack took a hold of the world officially.

From sweet and salted flavours in the 1980s to our huge range of gourmet flavours now, there really is no end to the this amazing snacks talents. Not only does it cater for every taste bud but it’s good for you too. Here at Empire we can supply the most gourmet flavours you’ve ever tasted straight to your door. Fresh, hand made and made from only the finest ingredients. There’s a reason popcorn has been so popular for so long and that’s because it’s quite simply delicious. 

What is popcorn

Thursday, 18 December 2014 13:09:56 Europe/London

Here at Empire we know our food inside out from seed to snack but do you? If you’re one of the millions whose knowledge only goes as far as the different gourmet flavours we offer here at Empire then here’s a quick guide to Popcorn and just how it makes the journey from the soil to in your hand.

What’s popcorn?

Popcorn is a whole grain product called maize that’s mostly grown in the United Sates. This is where the majority of the popcorn sold around the world is grown too. It looks a lot like corn on the cob and is similar in its cultivation too although only popcorn kernels can actually pop. Like all six different types of corn, popcorn is a cereal grain and comes from a wild grass. It’s made from three different parts, which are known as the endosperm, the germ and the pericarp.

The endosperm consists of soft and hard starch granules and is usually white or yellow in appearance. The starch in the endosperm provides the energy for the kernel otherwise known as the germ. The outer part of the kernel is the pericarp, which is also white or yellow in appearance though there have been instances where the pericarp has appeared red and even black at times.

Breeding

Popcorn seeds are now bred to produce market-friendly traits like stalk strength, better colour and successful popping. With the help of inbreeding they’re bred solely for their positive genetic traits. It can take around eight years of inbreeding until the plant selection is stable enough for two inbreeds to be crossed together to produce a super hybrid. This super hybrid is then planted as a seed to create the best and most flavourful popcorn possible.

Growth

A popcorn seed will usually germinate in roughly seven days and will begin to show through the soil in around ten. It’s the moisture in the soil that’s needed to dissolve elements such as nitrogen, phosphate and potash. As the plant grows it begins to produce ears of corn that will be covered in a green husk. You’ll also see feathery tassels at the top of the plant that produces the pollen. Once the ears have kernels the maturity process continues until the plant is left looking dry and brown.

Harvest

Popcorn has reached maturity when it’s brown and dry and the kernel is hard. There will also be a black layer if you scratch the tip of the kernel. This layer is a good signal telling you that it no longer needs nutrition. When it’s harvested at this point the kernel will contain around 16-20% moisture. It’s usually harvested with a combine due to the sheer amount of it and the machine will often have something called a corn head on it. This is used specifically for stripping the ear from the stalk. The combines today will even shell the kernels from the cob ready to be loaded onto trucks and transported. The bins they’re put in will have air forced through the floor to help dry the kernels further to take them to 14% moisture levels.

Processing

Once the popcorn has dried to 14% it’s then ready to be cleaned. The kernels are moved over screens, which vibrate in order to separate them from any other unwanted particles. After this they’ll be put through a gravity separator which will get rid of any further lightweight particles along with small, unwanted kernels that aren’t of the correct size. Once they’ve been cleaned like this they’ll then be polished, which will eliminate any material left from the plant that might still be clinging to the kernel. Once they’ve been polished they’re finally ready to be popped.

Popping

Perhaps the most obvious fact is that popcorn needs heat to pop. Most popcorn will tend to pop when its internal temperature gets to roughly 400-460 degrees Fahrenheit and this is down to the moisture within the kernel itself. When it’s heated the moisture quite naturally turns to steam and because the kernel is hard and flinty, the pressure builds. When the pressure builds the starch becomes soft like gelatine and the moisture continues to steam until it reaches 135lbs per square inch. This eventually causes the kernel to rupture where the gelatinised starch granules puff out; the kernel here is literally turning itself inside out. When the popcorn pops you’ll see that the starch or endosperm is the white fluffy part and the darker, flaky bit at the back is what’s left of the kernel.

Finally we have popcorn

As humans we consume popcorn as a rather versatile and nutritious snack but here at Empire we’ve been putting a new spin on things in terms of flavour. Instead of the ordinary sweet or savoury flavours that the world is used to, we’ve begun introducing fabulous new gourmet flavours such as Hot Madras and Spicy Thai. We’ve even released a rather sophisticated sea salt and cracked black pepper flavour. We think it’s these new and improved flavours that have caused its popularity as a snack to rise hugely since we started over ten years ago.

It might also have something to do with the fact that it’s a great snack for people of all ages too; whether your five or fifty popcorn is quite simply the ultimate snack. There’s no mess and no fuss either especially as it’s so simple to order and have delivered straight to your door. For more information on the flavours we have available at Empire just click here. 

Our popcorn evokes the very best memories

Monday, 15 December 2014 13:48:48 Europe/London

Popcorn memories

For the majority of the population, popcorn is merely a snack to be enjoyed at the cinema but for others it’s something quite different. When the word popcorn is mentioned an entirely new manner of feelings and memories are evoked. Yes popcorn is mostly associated with the late night showings of the funny romantic comedy you see with your girlfriends or the edge of your seat thriller that actually had you too engrossed to comfort your date. For some however the delicious flavour of popcorn isn’t just limited to the movies. For some it has and always will be that extra special tasty snack that was bought from the local supermarket and stocked their cupboards.

Late evenings after dinner was when the magic happened. The popcorn would be brought out in great big huge bowls that were big enough to cover your entire head. They were filled with the fluffy white snack and if you were lucky there’d be a bowl each. There you’d stay until the very last minute before bed slowly making your way through the giant heap of salted or sweet goodness. For these popcorn eaters the snack didn’t just mean a tasty treat, for them it was their wine. The popcorn signalled down time. It told them it was time to sit back, relax and put thier feet up. The popcorn came out and the joggers came on, feet were raised, slippers enveloped their weary feet and that was it, time to think no more.

Some people surprisingly don’t seem to remember popcorn on their own because whenever they ate it, it would come hand in hand with a delicious fix for the sweet tooth. The beautiful sight of candyfloss being woven around the stick when you were a child was mesmerising. These were extra special treats that only ever came out at the fair. In one hand an oversized bucket of popcorn and in the other a stick of candyfloss. The excitement and thrill they felt then comes back every time they eat it now. Each taste takes them on a wonderfully vivid trip down memory lane as if it were yesterday.

Here at Empire we want you to enjoy popcorn in the only way it should be and that’s with your very own rituals. Whether it’s a snack at the cinema, a late after dinner snack or a cheeky end of the week treat that gets everyone talking about times past. The beauty of it is too, with our delicious gourmet popcorn you can now start creating new and exciting memories all over again with a different flavour each time. Just think of wonderful summer evenings in the garden with bowls of Sea Salt popcorn or winter nights in front of the fire with Spicy Thai.

If you’d like to see the wonderful array of flavours we have on offer then just take a peek at our website. Here at Empire Popcorn and Confectionary Company we just know you’ll fall in love with our wonderful flavours.

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Follow your nose towards our wholesale popcorn

Wednesday, 26 November 2014 17:21:10 Europe/London

Follow your nose towards our wholesale popcorn

It’s a common scene in the office today isn’t it? One of your colleagues walks along the aisle with a hot bag of popcorn and leaves behind them a floating trail of delicious buttery smells. As the trail expands you sniff deeply and your mouth waters. Just like a child to the Pied Piper you follow the smell straight to the source: a bag of our wholesale popcorn and you want some.

Great tasting popcorn is down to delicious ingredients

So what exactly is in the aroma of our delicious popcorn that entices people so much? Experts suggest a multitude of things from complex processes in the nose and brain to the food industry’s success at manipulating our sense of smell. Here at Empire however we simply believe it’s down to the delicious ingredients we use when making our fresh popcorn. When it comes to the aroma of our favourite snack, the human nose has a rather impressive ability to detect the complex mixture.

The way in which the aroma gets our attention is just as fascinating especially now it’s been proven that our nose can detect some of the odours that bake off popcorn at concentrations lower than one part odour for every billion parts of air. It’s no real surprise then that as the brain can distinguish among 10,000 kinds of aromas, all within a fraction of a second that we find ourselves immediately drawn to the delicious sweet smells of Empire Popcorn.

Our tendency to immediately crave popcorn once we’ve smelt it might have something to do with the positive memories we associate with it for example, the cinema. Food scientists believe that we always have pleasure at the cinema whether we see a scary movie, a tearjerker or a romantic comedy. This is always accompanied by the sweet smell of popcorn and this positive experience is reinforced over the years.

Great memories with great tasting popcorn

It could also have something to do with memories you’ve created yourself at home such as sitting together on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn or maybe even sitting around the kitchen table with a bowl for everyone to share. Our brains don’t give names to each odour, instead they simply lump them together with experiences likes this. The conversations, the laughter all reinforces this as a positive experience meaning when we smell the sweet aroma again it immediately triggers these memories.

Here at Empire we use the best ingredients possible to make sure the best aromas come off of it. Whether you order sweet popcorn, buttery popcorn or even wholesale popcorn like our strawberry sweet and hot Madras, you’ll fall in love each and every time. You can even buy unpopped kernels to create your very own toppings and your own aromas if you wanted to. 

Why do we provide the best popcorn supplies in the UK?

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 10:41:48 Europe/London

Why do we provide the best popcorn supplies in the UK

Here at Empire we’re very proud of not just our amazing quality popcorn supplies but the reputation we’ve gained for great customer service while providing our healthy eco friendly snack. In this day and age when most customer service is simply dealt with via an electronic questionnaire and nothing else, we find it vital that we still offer our customer service line for when customers want to speak to us direct.

There really is nothing so frustrating as when you wish to leave a review or even a complaint about a product yet can’t get through to someone. Here at Empire Popcorn and Confectionary Company, we not only take your calls direct but we also deal with each and every query with the urgency you think it deserves.

We absolutely love to hear your reviews about our products and find it even more exciting when fans of our gourmet flavoured popcorn or delicious candyfloss phone to ask if we’d consider stocking yet more incredible snacks. The fact that you enjoy the service you receive so much that you’d like to keep all of your Internet snack purchases solely with us is a huge compliment.

On top of this we’re incredibly passionate about sticking to certain green policies with our snack preparation. We only have one planet so it’s best we look after the one we have as much as we can. To help with this we use rapeseed oil in all of our popcorn manufacture processes. This is for the simple fact that rapeseed oil is far less impacting on the rainforest than products such as palm oil or soy oil. We also only use an additive free fine sea salt that’s been soil association certified. This means it’s completely organic which means absolutely no harmful pesticides were used in the production of it.

On top of this we’re also huge supporters of recycling, especially within the local vicinity. We fully support locals who wish to use our popcorn product waste because surprisingly enough it makes fantastic wild bird and poultry feed so why throw it away when it can be used again?

It’s for reasons such as this that we see the great reaction to our flavoursome products as the icing on the cake. Whether you’re trying one of our traditional flavours such as sweet popcorn or salted, or perhaps you’re throwing caution to wind and tantalising your taste buds with something new like our spicy Thai, we enjoy hearing all about it. It’s your fantastic reviews and continually returning custom that shows us why we provide the best popcorn supplies in the UK. If you want to hear what other people have got to say then take a look in our ‘About’ section where you’ll find fab reviews for all of our products.

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