Sunday, April 15, 2018

TV Time/Jiffy Pop Popcorn (food)

(1950s-60s)

TV TimeThe 1950s were a time for food experiments, not so much in new flavors, like today, but in new and more convenient ways to prepare it. And in the time when a TV Dinner was the rage, it was unsurprising that TV Time popcorn was made.

Popcorn before this required that you pour oil into a pot (or popper if you had one and wanted to do it over a fire), heat it up, add the corn, and then shake it until it stopped popping.  Not a complicated process, but too much for the time

TV Time made the process simple.  It was a plastic container with a two-pocket pouch. The right pouch held nut oil (in solid form); the left held popcorn grains and salt.*

You’d squeeze the oil into the pan, heat it, and then add the popcorn.  You’d shake it until it stopped popcorn and ended up with a bowl of it.

Not much different from the traditional method, but it saved the step of measuring out the oil. Plus the nut oil was more flavorful than vegetable oil, so the end result was very satisfying.. 

This was our go-to for many years, up until Jiffy Pop came in 1959.  It was an aluminum pan that you just put on the heat. As a bonus, the foil covering the popcorn expanded as it popped, turning a flat pan into a big ball of aluminum-covered snack.

Jiffy Pop Before and After

TV Time couldn’t compete in the convenience game, and and Jiffy Pop popped it out of the water for spectacular presentation.  And later popcorn makers and microwaves made stovetop cooking of popcorn as obsolete as home churning butter. 

Like most products, there’s little information on what happened to it. It went through various owners.  The last seems to have been Great Western Foods, which still seems to sell similar products called “Portion Packs,” but which use canola oil, so it’s not the same.**

Jiffy Pop is still around, since it’s owned by agricultural giant ConAgra. 

But for many years, TV Time was what we mean when we wanted popcorn at home.

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*Later iterations had a place to cut off one corner to pour out the excess salt. For some reason, that always impressed me.

**It also looks like the sell primarily in bulk.

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