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But will it taste good?

Posted by Devra First  December 18, 2007 01:47 PM

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The four biggest US makers of microwave popcorn have now stopped using the butter flavor diacetyl in their products. (Read the story here.) Diacetyl is a chemical that's been linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, a life-threatening disease that will forever after be known as "popcorn lung." It will take a few months for all the diacetyl-containing popcorn to rotate off the shelves. (The problem mostly seems to be with people who work with large vats of the stuff; diacetyl occurs naturally in butter, cheese, and fruit.)

I've never found microwave popcorn particularly appealing -- it has that weird, chemically microwave popcorn taste. But it might be even less appealing if it doesn't taste like "butter." I wonder what they're planning to replace the diacetyl with. And if they're not replacing it with anything because it tastes just fine without it, what was it doing in there in the first place?

I'm just going to keep popping mine on the stove, which is really almost as easy as sticking a bag in the microwave. (I never understood pancake mix, either.) A smaller size Le Creuset pot is a great popcorn-making vessel -- the kernels never burn. I pop mine in olive oil. For toppings, I go through phases. Right now I'm having a moment with Morton's hot salt. What do you put on your popcorn? Let me know, because I'm running out of hot salt.

About Dishing

What's cooking in the world of food.


Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.

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