The Food Issue

Kansas-made Atom Pop Popper makes popcorn right

Atom Pop Corn Popper works on top of the stove and requires no shaking.
Atom Pop Corn Popper works on top of the stove and requires no shaking. The Kansas City Star

The invention of the microwave oven radically changed the way America pops its corn, but there is still a golly-gee-whiz charm to the Atom Pop Corn Popper by Kansas-based QuinCraft.

The cool, conical aluminum stovetop appliance burst onto the market in 1952. Made on spin lathes originally used to manufacture aircraft parts during World War II, the popper resembles a mini wok with sloped sides that force the fluffy corn up and away from the unpopped kernels.

The packaging graphics — taken from the original marketing flier — heralds the appliance as the original “no shake, no stir” corn popper. The flier adds it is “never too pooped to pop.”

Rod Ernst of Ernst & Son Hardware in Lawrence says his family has been stocking the popper since the ’50s, when it was sold for $2.49 and included a metal measuring cup. (2015 pricetag: $21 to $25.)

Velvet Creme Popcorn Co. owner Nance White-Wright is a more recent Atom Pop convert but says it is the only popper she sells because “it’s exactly the way it needs to be” to get the job done.

The QuinCraft company started out in Quincy, Kan., moved to Fredonia, Kan., and landed in Bushton, Kan., in 2005 after current owners Nilus Orth and three of his five brothers, Linus and Loren, bought the company. Check out atompoppopper.com for more.

We tested the Atom Pop Popper on our electric range using canola oil, and we agree with Orth: there is a “night and day” difference between popcorn cooked on the stovetop instead of in a microwave. The corn stays crisper, bypassing the chemical additives in the microwave stuff that can give it an unpleasant rubbery texture.

Atom Pop Corn Popper: Made by QuinCraft Products. Available at Velvet Creme Popcorn Co. in Westwood or Ernst & Son Hardware in Lawrence or order online at atompoppopper.com

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