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October is National Popcorn Poppin Month. Find out why Americans eat more than 17 billion quarts per year.

3 minute read

You probably didn’t know October is National Popcorn Month. It is.

You probably didn’t know you can pay $250 for gold-encrusted popcorn eaten by “Kings, Queens, Tycoons, Fire Breathing Dragons, the guy who invented paper clips, and Unicorns.” You can.

Don’t feel bad — we didn’t either. As penance, did some research on the economics of popcorn. Here’s what we found…


1. You can make your own homemade popcorn for four times less than the store version.

In five minutes. And it tastes better.

The Seattle Times suggests doing it in a sauce pan on the stove, like this:

 Put the oil in an 8-inch high-sided saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn; the bottom of the pan should be covered in a single layer of kernels. Cover partially and cook undisturbed until the kernels begin popping. Once the corn is popping in earnest, give the pan an occasional shake.

Just like microwave popcorn, stop when you hear nothing popping for a second or two. Add salt and you’re done.

No stove? You can do it dorm-style with a microwave and a brown paper bag, too. Drizzle the tablespoon of oil over half a cup of popcorn kernels, put it in a brown paper bag, fold the top twice so it stays shut, and microwave for 2 and a half to 3 minutes. Pour into a bowl and salt it.

2. You can make amazing gourmet popcorn at home that costs way less than online, too.

It takes longer, but you’ll probably agree the results are worth it. For instance, here’s a recipe for maple bacon popcorn that takes about half an hour…

What you need

  • 3 slices bacon cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt

What to do: 

  • Cook bacon in a thin layer of water over low heat, until the water has burned off and the bacon is crispy. (15 minutes)
  • Transfer the bacon to a plate. Meanwhile, pour the bacon fat into a large pot and add popcorn kernels. (1 minute)
  • Pop the popcorn, while melting the maple syrup and butter together in a saucepan. (5 minutes)
  • Let it cool for a few minutes, then pour the mixture over the popcorn, add bacon, and toss. (3 minutes)

Check out other creative ways to make your own gourmet popcorn here.


3. The most expensive popcorn in the U.S. is sold in Chicago.

Berco’s Billion Dollar Popcorn doesn’t actually cost a billion dollars, but at $250 a tin, it’s still pretty pricey. It’s made with organic sugar, butter from a Vermont creamery, Danish salt, and Nielsen Massey bourbon vanilla, all topped with “23 karat edible gold flakes.” (The price isn’t because of the gold, because you can get gold-flake chocolate-covered bacon for $40.)


4. Movie theater popcorn costs more per ounce than filet mignon.

Yep. You always knew that you were getting ripped off when buying popcorn at the movies, but now you know just how much.

Professor Richard McKenzie, who wrote a book about popcorn called Why Popcorn Costs So Much at the Movies, And Other Pricing Puzzles, estimates it must cost less than 10 cents an ounce to make movie theater popcorn. That means popcorn has an estimated markup price of 1,300 percent.

But if theaters didn’t do that, they’d have to raise ticket prices to stay in business. At least popcorn is an optional part of the experience, and there are usually coupons.

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About the Author

Jess Miller

Jess Miller

Miller is the former assistant editor of

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