The whirlypop, or whirley pop as it’s sometimes called, has been around since the early 1900s.
The first version of the machine was made by William Whirley, who sold his invention in 1915.
What Is A Whirley Pop?
Whirley pops are one of three types of popping machines: poppers, blowers, and whirlies (or whirly pops).
A whirly pop is a specific kind of popper that rotates its kernels while they cook on top of heat-resistant glass plates.
Popcorn makers have used different methods for making corn kernels pop up since the 1800s.
One method involves using hot coals in an oven to create steam.
This process heats the air inside the oven until it becomes superheated with enough pressure to burst open the kernel.
Popcorns created this way tend to be flat and flimsy, but there isn’t much control over how large their kernels will get.
Another technique involves putting water into a pot and heating it with fire underneath it.
When the water reaches high temperatures, it creates a vacuum effect, which forces the corn out of the husk.
These popped corns can be crunchy and juicy depending on how long they sit before being eaten.
However, they often don’t grow big enough to be worth eating all alone.
In the 1920s, a new method came along called “whirling.” It involved placing the kernels onto a rotating plate above a source of heat.
As the plate rotated, the kernels were cooked evenly without any need for external sources such as flame or steam.
This innovation revolutionized the industry, so much so that the term “popper” became synonymous with “whirly pop.” Today, most home cooks use whirly pops because they offer better results than other kinds of poppers.
They also require less effort and equipment than other techniques.
There are two main reasons why whirly pops are superior to traditional poppers.
First, they allow users to easily control the size of their corn kernels.
Second, they prevent burning by ensuring uniform heating.
Both benefits come from the fact that each kernel sits directly above a heat source when it gets cooked.
Here’s what makes a whirly pop work:
- A motor spins at about 1,500 RPM to produce friction between the grains and the bowl.
- Air circulates through the kernels to release trapped moisture.
- Kernels rotate during cooking to expose them to more heat.
- Corn kernels cool quickly after being removed from the machine.
Types of Whirley Pops
You may find that your local grocery store sells multiple brands of whirly pops.
Some manufacturers include only a single brand name in their product line, whereas others sell several varieties under different names.
Here’s a list of common whirly pop products found throughout the United States.
- Hamilton Beach
How Do You Make a Whirley Pop?
To make a whirly pop, follow these steps:
1. Find the right model
Before buying a whirly pop, look closely at the instruction manual to determine which models will accommodate the bowls you plan to buy.
Most whirly pops today come with four separate bowls instead of just one bowl like older versions did.
If you want to purchase a set, check if yours includes a lid that covers all four bowls to help keep the contents fresh.
Also, consider whether the manufacturer offers replacement parts for broken pieces.
2. Choose the right container
Next, choose the perfect container to fit your whirly pop.
For example, some containers have lids that screw off and are easy to clean.
Others have removable inserts that let you remove the kernels once they’ve cooled down.
3. Fill the container
After picking out the correct container, fill it with kernels.
Be sure to add plenty of kernels! You won’t get very many freebies by accident.
You should always start with a full container, especially if you plan on purchasing another batch later.
Once you finish adding kernels, give it a spin to mix everything together.
Your whirly pop shouldn’t feel heavy unless you filled it too full.
4. Attach the bowl
Now that your whirly pop is ready to go, attach the bowl to the base of the device.
There are various ways to connect the bowl, including bolts, clasps, and adhesive strips.
If you bought a kit, the instructions probably included detailed directions for connecting the bowl.
Otherwise, search online for tips on how to properly mount a bowl on a whirly pop.
Once you’re finished attaching the bowl, turn the crank to begin cooking.
How Do You Make A Whirley Pop?
If you don’t have a whirley pop at home, then there’s no need to worry.
You can buy one from any store that sells kitchen appliances for about $100 – $150.
There are also many different brands out there, including Popcorn Machine Company and WhirlyPop.
When choosing your whirley pop, look for something with an insulated housing (to keep hot air inside) and a clear lid so you can see what’s going on inside without having to open up the entire device.
If possible, get a model where you can crank the handle manually rather than using an electric motor.
This will make it easier to turn by hand when needed.
Before buying a whirley pop, check online to find reviews about specific models.
Do this to be sure they work well and that all parts fit together properly.
What Are The Ingredients In A Whirley Pop?
A whirley pop doesn’t require any special equipment at all – just your hands, some salt (and possibly sugar), and some airtime for the corn to expand.
You can use whatever kind of pan/pot/bowl you want, but we recommend using one with sides that keep the popped corn from flying out while still allowing you to remove it easily after popping.
Here’s what makes up a typical whirley pop:
- 1 cup of popcorn (or 1 cup of kernels)
- About 2 tablespoons of kosher salt
- Pinch of cayenne pepper powder (optional)
How to make a whirley pop
You don’t need much more than this to get started.
Here’s how to make a whirley pop on YouTube:
Step 1: Fill your bowl or pot with uncooked popcorn (about 1 cup).
Step 2: Add about two tablespoons of salt into the bowl or pot. It will be salty enough without adding anything else yet.
(Optional) Step 3: If you like spicy food, add a pinch of cayenne pepper powder to the mix before salting.
Step 4: Put the lid on top of the bowl or pot and shake vigorously until the kernels start to crackle and pop open. This should only take a few seconds if you have a good shaking motion going.
Step 5: Remove the lid and let it sit for about 10 minutes so that the popcorn finishes expanding. When finished, you should have plenty of popped corn.
Alternatively, you may prefer using a microwave instead of a stovetop or oven method.
Just remember to adjust the amount of salt accordingly depending on how big your batch is.
There are also other ways to create a whirley pop besides using either an electric or gas stove, such as making one inside a pressure cooker.
However, these methods tend to produce less volume per serving compared to the traditional stovetop method.
What Is The History Of The Whirley Pop?
Whirley invented what we now know as a whirley pop for a specific reason.
He wanted to make popping corn easier than using an open pot on top of the stove.
At the time, most people used a large pan with a lid over the hot coals until the fire had burned down enough to start popping corn.
This method required constant attention from the person doing the popping, because they needed to add more wood every few minutes so that their ears would pop up out of the popped kernels.
To solve this problem, he created the whirley pop.
It consisted of three parts: a metal bowl into which you put your wet cornmeal, a circular metal plate that spins at high speed, and a handle attached to the plate that allows you to turn it without burning yourself.
It was such a success that other inventors started making similar machines.
In fact, one of those inventors was George F. Brown Jr., whose company manufactured many different versions of the whirley pop between 1918 and 1947.
How Did The Whirley Pop Get Its Name?
Whirlies are named after their inventor, William Whirley.
He patented his original design for a popcorn maker in 1901.
This device used an electric motor that rotated a metal cylinder with corn inside, ensuring even popping.
William Whirley died in 1918 but his company continued making whirley pops under different owners until 1975 when they were bought out by General Mills.
Whirley still makes them today, though they’ve taken on a new form factor, which we will discuss below.
Popcorn machines became popular during World War I
During World War I, American soldiers enjoyed eating popped corn while watching movies.
Popcorn machines became very popular, especially among the military, because there wasn’t enough food available in wartime America.
They also helped save money, as they could make popcorn without heating up oil.
These devices were originally powered by electricity, like most modern appliances.
But in 1920, the U.S. government mandated all electrical motors be replaced with steam engines, so the makers of popcorn machines had to find other ways to power theirs.
Enter the whirley pop!
Who Invented The Whirley Pop?
William “Bill” Whirley was an American inventor from New York City who worked for General Electric (GE) beginning in 1889.
He was responsible for developing many industrial products such as the electric iron, automatic switchboard system, and electric lighting systems.
Whirley patented several kitchen appliances including a rotary popcorn maker.
In 1915 he created a device that used steam pressure rather than electricity to heat up the air inside the kettle, which allowed him to use less energy while still producing a good batch of popcorn.
Before this innovation, people had to crank their ovens all night long to make popcorn.
This would burn out the motor every time they turned on the appliance.
In addition to creating the whirlypop, Bill also designed and built the first microwave oven in 1922.
That same year, GE gave him $500,000 to develop a new line of microwaves, but he died before he could finish working on them.
What Are Some Popular Ways To Eat A Whirley Pop?
Popcorn is one of America’s favorite snacks. It can be eaten plain, but many people like their corn with butter or salt.
Popcorns are often served at movie theaters, sporting events, and other places where there are lots of people.
They’re also used for special occasions, such as weddings and birthday parties.
There are plenty of different kinds of machines on the market designed specifically to make popped corn.
Some of them have automatic popping mechanisms while others use manual methods.
But none of them work quite like the whirlypop.
This device rotates the kernel rapidly so each side cooks evenly.
It’s not easy to find an old whirley pop because they were originally manufactured only in large quantities and weren’t meant for personal use.
You can now buy new whirleys online if you want to try your luck finding an original unit.
If you don’t see anything available, consider making your own!
How Do You Store A Whirley Pop?
Whirley pops can be stored for up to two weeks if they aren’t being used often.
You should keep them covered when not in use so that dust doesn’t build up on their surfaces.
If your whirley pop does get dusty, simply clean it off with a damp cloth.
You can also use an oven mitt to remove the lid from your whirley pop and let it cool down before storing it away.
This will help prevent condensation on the inside surface of the lid.
What Are Some Common Problems With Making A Whirley Pop?
A whirley pop can be a great way to make popcorn at home, but there are still a few things you need to take into consideration before getting started.
Here are three major issues you should know about when trying your hand at this kitchen appliance.
It requires a lot of prep work
Just like any other popcorn maker, a whirley pop will require you to put in quite a bit of effort beforehand.
You have to preheat the oven, fill up the popcorn bowl, and then prepare the oil.
This means waiting on all these steps before you actually get to enjoy a perfectly popped batch of corn.
You might end up wasting too much oil
The last thing you want to happen while using a whirley pop is ending up with an empty container.
While many varieties of whirley pops come equipped with a built-in spout, most won’t let you pour out excess oil from the bottom without emptying the whole basket.
This is very important because most whirley pops only hold enough oil for one or two batches of popcorn.
If you don’t use a funnel or pour cup to save your remaining oil, you could waste a lot of it if you run out halfway through.
Not every variety of popcorn works well with a whirley pop
When choosing which kind of popcorn bucket to buy, keep in mind that not all types of popcorn will fit inside the whirley pop.
For example, buttery popcorn tends to clump together more than regular popcorn, so you may find that it doesn’t release easily from the whirley pop.
What Are Some Tips For Making A Perfect Whirley Pop?
To make a good whirley pop you should use fresh corn.
If you have frozen corn, be sure to thaw it before using.
Also, don’t overfill your pan.
A good rule of thumb is one cup of popped corn per person.
Lastly, keep an eye on the temperature of your oven while popping corn.
Turn off the heat if necessary so that the corn doesn’t burn.
This will also help prevent burnt kernels from getting stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- You can add salt, butter, cheese, herbs, spices, and other toppings to your popcorn.
- Use a metal spatula when removing the popped corn from the hot oil.
How do I store my whirley pop?
After all this effort, you might want to consider storing your whirley pop after its done popping corn.
After cooling down completely, wrap the base tightly in plastic wrap and then place it into a Ziploc bag.
Store these in the freezer until ready to eat them later.
If you like the flavor of popcorn but not the texture, try putting some of it in a bowl and adding melted butter.
You can also freeze leftover popcorn in airtight containers and reheat it whenever you need it.
- The stovetop
- 1/2 cup popcorn
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp Flavacol Popcorn Seasoning
- Set a burner on the stovetop to medium heat. Because the pan is thin and quickly cooks the popcorn, a higher heat is not required.
- In a Whirley Pop Popcorn maker that is chilled, add popcorn and coconut oil. Do not heat the oil or the saucepan beforehand!
- Place the container on the burner and then secure the lid.
- Till all the kernels have finished popping, continuously crank the handle for 6 to 7 minutes.
- Open the lid after taking the pot off the heat to let the steam out.
- Add your preferred seasonings on top after pouring into a bowl. Enjoy!