PrePOPped POPcorn gains POPularity


Photo by Jen Barranco Sam Wanamaker (’18) and Jimmy Danielczyk (’18) hoard the last two bags of popcorn in journalism class. “I enjoy eating popcorn while working for the harbinger” Danielczyk said.

Jen Barranco , Reporter

If you’d ask students a couple years ago what SkinnyPop, Boom Chicka Pop, Buddha Pop, or any other brand of healthy pre-popped popcorn, was most people would have no clue what you were talking about. But now almost half of the kids at my lunch table have plastic bags stuffed with the lightly salted popcorn.

Why the sudden switch? What happened to the buttery microwave popcorn that came freshly popped and hot?

“It’s easier to put in lunches, and to just take places, and it’s healthier,” Erin Sistek (’18), who eats popcorn as an after school snack every day said.

“Skinny Pop is just healthier,” Kara Schmidt (’18), frequent consumer of SkinnyPop (’18) said.

But the question is, is Skinny Pop really that much healthier? Or maybe we should be asking how unhealthy is microwave popcorn?

Microwave popcorn is made with a chemical called diacetyl, a synthetic butter flavoring. Diacetyl is harmless when consumed, but when heated to high temperatures, diacetyl vaporizes and becomes toxic.

Other chemicals in microwave popcorn, which are way too complicated and long to name, are linked with thyroid issues, bladder cancer, and infertility. These chemicals are found in the lining of the bag. Their purpose is to prevent grease from soaking the bag wet. But they cause many health issues and when heated the chemicals fuse into the popcorn, causing you to ingest the chemicals.

Non-chemical ingredients that are also harmful and proven to cause health issues are: genetically modified organism (GMO) ingredients in the form of oil and trans-fat.

GMOs are linked to a slew of health issues such as: allergies, serious inflammation, and toxic organ damage and infertility. says, the effects of GMO are mostly unknown due to the lack of government funding to experiment the effects. states that trans-fats are considered one of the most deadly fats available, causing 20,000 heart attacks a year and over 7,000 deaths.

“Even though microwave popcorn tastes so good, it leaves me feeling gross, greasy and heavy like I just gained a couple pounds,” Julia Watt (’19), who loves both SkinnyPop and microwave popcorn  said.

Another harmful ingredient added to the butter flavoring is beaver anal glands. Also known as, castoreum extract. Companies get away without listing weird ingredients like this by referring to it simply as “natural flavoring.” Other food products that contain castoreum on food and beverages with vanilla flavoring, raspberry, and strawberry flavoring.

Meanwhile, SkinnyPop is made with only popcorn kernels, sunflower oil and salt. There are no GMOs, gluten or preservatives.

“SkinnyPop is the perfect snack,” Watt said. “It leaves me satisfied without being full and makes me feel healthy.”

However many people believe that microwave popcorn, is just plain tastier and has more flavor.

“I just love the buttery flavor and all the salt. There is nothing better than sitting down to a good movie and having a big bowl of greasy popcorn,” Eva Burr (’19) a popcorn lover said.

Physics head Brad Duvall said he likes “microwave popcorn all day long.”

It seems that Hereford’s view reflects what everyone else is thinking. SkinnyPop sales have increased 40.3% since last year whereas, the best seller brand of microwave popcorn, Act II Butter Lovers, has declined 12% in the last two years.