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It’s hard to imagine any snack food that’s as un-fussy and low-tech as popcorn. It’s also more fun than most snacks, because you get to watch the show as it pops. The Nostalgia brand of popcorn makers takes that fun factor to another level with designs that mimic the street corner popcorn carts of a century ago, but the designs themselves are completely practical and modern.

Hot Air Popcorn Maker Instructions

Nostalgia’s original product was a hot-air popcorn maker built to look like a miniature version of a street cart, and the current version of the popper looks and works much the same.

Start by checking that the power switch is off; then plug in the unit. You’ll need to run the popper for about 3 minutes to heat. While it’s doing that, remove the kernel measuring cup from its spot at the top of the popper, and fill it with 6 tablespoons of popcorn kernels. Once your popper is hot, turn it off again.

Put a bowl under the chute to catch your popcorn, pour the kernels into the popping chamber, and put the measuring cup back into its spot on the popper. Turn the unit on again, and wait for the avalanche of popcorn. Once it slows down to one or two pops per second, switch it off and enjoy your treat. You’ll need to let the unit cool down for at least 10 minutes or so between batches.

Kettle Popcorn Machine Instructions

The Nostalgia company also makes kettle poppers, which work just like the models you see at the movie theater. They’re a scaled-down version of the old-school street corner popcorn cart.

To use one, start by making sure the power switch is off and then plug in the unit. Turn it on for up to 5 minutes to heat the kettle, then turn it off again. Add oil to the kettle – 3 tablespoons for the smaller model, 4 for the larger – and then measure in your kernels. If you’re using the measuring cup that came with your popper, fill it loosely to the fill line. If you’re using a regular measuring cup, the small kettle popper holds 1/4 cup of kernels, and the larger one holds a full cup.

Close the door and turn on the unit. The corn will start popping almost immediately, spilling out of the kettle into the cart. Once the popcorn slows and stops popping, turn the unit off again and use the crank handle to empty out whatever corn is left in the kettle. Once the kettle has cooled, make sure you remove any unpopped kernels.

Stirring Popcorn Maker Instructions

Although its retro models are what the Nostalgia brand is known for, not all of its poppers follow that pattern. Its “speed popcorn popper” models are decidedly modern and high-tech, and they have a simple, functional design. The base contains a quick-heating halogen element to heat up the cooking plate, and the cover of the unit doubles as your popcorn bowl. The stirring rod keeps your popcorn from sticking and scorching as it pops.

To use the popper, measure 2 tablespoons of oil onto the cooking plate and then add up to 3/4 cup of kernels. Remove the lid from the very top of the bowl/cover to let steam escape while the popcorn pops. Place the bowl over the cooking plate. Check that the popper is switched off; then plug it in and flip the switch to “on.” If you want to add butter to the popcorn, put it over the vents where it will melt and drip into the corn as it pops.

Once the popping stops, turn the unit off and unplug it. Put the lid back over the vent to turn the cover back into a working popcorn bowl. Use oven mitts or heatproof pads to pick up the popper and turn it upside-down; then remove the cooking plate.

General Guidelines for Nostalgia Popcorn Machines

All Nostalgia popcorn makers should only be operated on a stable, level surface to limit the risk of injury. They’re also potentially unsafe unless they’re assembled according to the manufacturer’s instructions, so if you’ve lost your original manual, you should download a replacement from the website.

If one or more parts have gone missing since the last time you put the machine together, Nostalgia popcorn maker parts are also available from the company’s website. To locate the necessary parts and get a quote on pricing, fill out the contact form on Nostalgia’s support page.

Before their first use, all Nostalgia popcorn makers should be carefully washed with warm, soapy water and thoroughly dried. They also should be cleaned periodically after use to keep them in good working order.

About the Author

Fred Decker

Fred Decker is a trained chef, former restaurateur and prolific freelance writer, with a special interest in all things related to food and nutrition. His work has appeared online on major sites including Livestrong.com, WorkingMother.com and the websites of the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle; and offline in Canada's Foodservice & Hospitality magazine and his local daily newspaper. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.