That buttery aroma might be toxic, too

posted by Michael Zoldessy on September 7, 2007 at 7:40 am

New findings show some potentially harmful side effects of that innocent treat, popcorn.

Pop Weaver, one of the largest producers of microwave popcorn, is removing a controversial chemical flavoring agent from its products.

The chemical — diacetyl — adds buttery taste. Government worker safety investigators have linked exposure to the synthetic butter to the sometimes fatal destruction of the lungs of hundreds of workers in food production and flavoring factories.

And while Pop Weaver has dropped diacetyl from its product, it remains in widespread use in thousands of other consumer products, including the microwave popcorn brands Orville Redenbacher and Act II.

Read the full report at Seattle PI

Comments (14)

JakeHolman on September 7, 2007 at 8:26 am

This caused me to dump several boxes of Orville Redenbacher and Act II popcorn I had in my pantry and led me to the make-your-own site:

View link

Scott on September 7, 2007 at 9:24 am

I thought there was risk only if you have prolonged exposure to diacetyl, as those people involved in the manufacturing process have? You take a much bigger risk when you drive to the grocery store to buy your popcorn than you do when you consume this stuff, unless you’re consuming large quantities of it.

exit on September 7, 2007 at 12:00 pm

I came late to the microwave popcorn trend and got a kick out of how “easy” it was… However the talk about hydrogenation gave me pause, and I knew there was a lot of fatty stuff in there… One day I was working on a TV show where craft services had put a ouy bowl of fresh stovetop popped popcorn – it was a big hit with all of us who hade forgotton how good the real thing could be. But what about the burning, the unpopped kernels, etc? I looked around and found the stovetop poppers that had a stirring mechanism like at the movies. You need very little oil in these, most every kernel pops, and it doesn’t stick to the pan.

Use Smart Balance oil (formulated to lower cholesterol), Theatre Spice, a good popcorn flavoring (withough any junk) from Schnider’s Gourmet World in Canada, Smart Balance fat/calorie free butter spray (Great buttery taste) and you get a pretty healthy snack that literelly reminds me of the hot buttered popcrn I got as a kid at the movies.

I am so used to this stuff that the heavy oil and flavoring used in theatres (especially ArcLight) makes me a little naseous. Kernel Seasons also makes a shake-on butter flavor. So once you get the knack of real popping, it’s a guilt free and pretty healthy snack.

exit on September 7, 2007 at 12:05 pm

correcting typos above, “craft service had put out a bowl…” and “literally” …I really am a lousy typist.

KJB2012 on September 7, 2007 at 2:17 pm

I always knew pop corn was bad for people. I used to see kids turning blue after eating a bag of pop corn at the cinema. Alas their parents wouldn’t believe me when I told them it was the “pop corn”.

I learned early that “corn” of any kind wasn’t good for a person. If it had been the Ancient Greek would have invented it.

Thank the lord we have our “fearless” federal safety investigators to tell us what to eat. I think I’ll go get a beer.

By they way, Cinerama was indeed ahead of the curve back in the 1950s. The Cinerama theatres didn’t sell pop corn.

exit on September 7, 2007 at 2:33 pm

Popcorn history dates at least as far back as ancient Egypt, where it’s been found in the pyramids. I think most food experts will say that popcorn can be a healthy snack, as long as it is handled properly. The variation found in theatres, stadiums, etc, is substantially altered by the orange oil it’s popped in. If it’s very yellow and has a buttery smell when being popped, use with caution. Regular popcorn is not naturally yellow. The real thing works well for me, actually helps me lose weight if I reach for popcorn instead of fatty snacks.

vic1964 on September 7, 2007 at 3:27 pm

Yes,it all in how its made and what you put on it.

JodarMovieFan on September 7, 2007 at 5:24 pm

Kirk, I’m curious to know why it was Cinerama theaters did not sell popcorn. Enlighten us, please.

Once in awhile, I’ll have popcorn at the theater but after a few bites, I get thirsty and need a drink, so there’s another $10 spent at the theater, unless I plan ahead and sneak either a snack or drink in. :)

exit on September 7, 2007 at 5:28 pm

Legit theatres don’t serve it either, for the most obvious reasons, the mess and the noise.

JodarMovieFan on September 7, 2007 at 5:37 pm

Interesting, Roadshow. So what did “legit theaters” sell for refreshment if anything? Candy would be a mess with wrappers on the floor or partially eaten pieces attached under a seat. Any drink could be spilled and you know how sodas love to stick to floors.

exit on September 7, 2007 at 5:46 pm

This I remember vividly. I was taken to see FIDDLER ON THE ROOF on Broadway as kid. My first B'way show. (Tzeitel was played by Bette Midler, btw) The only liquid refreshment available was little bitty cartons of Orangeade or Lemonade, I think there was a limited choice of candy. Radio City Music Hall in the 60s didn’t have popcorn either, no place to pop and serve it… so they had Cracker Jacks. Today’s Legit houses sell sodas and cocktails but most don’t allow them to be brought to the seats. Candy is sold, but the choice is generally limited to things that won’t make much mess or noise.

LorenzoRodriguez on September 7, 2007 at 11:20 pm

I am fairly certain popcorn was invented/discovered by Native Americans in Mexico about 8000 years ago. This conclusion is based on material from reliable sources, but no one can say for certain.

There is alot of readily accessible information about popcorn at
Charles Cretors invented the popcorn machine in 1885.
A few years later a couple of Germans invented Cracker Jack.
CJ includes popcorn in the recipe.

Diacetyl in microwave popcorn is just another culprit in the perpetual parade of poisons killing humans: DDT & Flouride in our water, aspartme in diet beverages, etc. Deadly toxins continue to slowly slaughter millions so some parasite can add a digit to his/her portfolio. One has to wonder why Coke and Pepsi do not get more bad publicity for injecting aspartme into millions of unsuspecting folks. The diet soda at your local theater is likely much worse for your body than microwave popcorn.

An early report on the destructive effects of Diacetyl is at

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on September 8, 2007 at 5:42 pm

Legit (stage) theatres generally do not allow any food or drink inside the auditorium. Refreshments bought at intermission are supposed to be consumed in the lobby during the intermission.

exit on September 8, 2007 at 5:54 pm

they do allow candy, bottled water sometimes, and the ushers have to keep eyes peeled for cups coming in. the way some people try to hide drinks… like they think they’re the first to roll up their program around it. some places allow drinks if they want the money badly enough.

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