Popcorn, The “Homesteader’s” Nemesis

By , May 20, 2013

We, like many Americans, love our popcorn.

For us, it goes beyond the occasional snack. When my older brother, David, and I were very young, Mom decided that Sunday evening meals would be our choice. We chose popcorn. Sunday night became a high point of our week, because we not only got popcorn for dinner, but we got to eat this dinner in the living room, in front of the television, watching The Wonderful World of Disney.

Eventually, as we grew older, we augmented the weekly popcorn meal with a sandwich or other heartier fare, but the acceptability of popcorn as an occasional meal continues to this day. It doesn’t offer much in the way of nutrition, but, made in adequate quantities, it makes a filling and pleasant meal now and then.

Unfortunately, popcorn has its dark side: unpopped kernels, known by the rather vulgar nickname, “old maids.”

We use stove top, hand-cranked popcorn poppers to make our popcorn. This method leaves almost no kernels unpopped, but there are always a few left over. These can play havoc on one’s teeth. Some people adore them or at least tolerate them, munching them along with the fully-popped corn. We carefully avoid them, going so far as to stop eating before we reach the bottom of the bowl. The remnants of the meal go into the compost, where strange and unexpected things can happen to it (see Shrews Like Popcorn?).

Just recently, Michelle accidentally chewed a kernel, and broke a tooth. She now has to chew carefully on a temporary filling, and will have to get a crown in July. We’re not sure what this will cost, but we know it won’t be cheap! It constitutes a minor financial disaster for us.

We only get one set of teeth in life. Chipping a tooth can be a very serious issue. Now in my early 50s, I have two chipped teeth that I know of. Neither represents more than a mild inconvenience. Neither warranted any sort of dental repair. But, we want to avoid it all if possible—anything from minor annoyance to major dental work.

Eating popcorn, therefore, represents a considerable risk. David and his wife, Anke, who live much as we do, except on their sailboat (see more about them here), have gone so far as to swear off popcorn entirely. Dave feels he can no longer risk breaking another tooth. He’s no less fond of popcorn than I, perhaps even more so; this commitment to dental health represents a considerable sacrifice of gustatory pleasure.

I’m not quite ready to go so far, but I intend to punch some holes in some plastic lids to create “kernel grids” to place in the bottom of our popcorn bowls. This will sift the kernels out, and remove them from the rest of the popcorn, so they won’t get chewed accidentally. This will probably increase the amount of unused corn. That will no doubt please the shrews.

2 Responses to “Popcorn, The “Homesteader’s” Nemesis”

  1. Linn Hartman says:

    Popcorn and homemade fudge are two things you have to be careful with. I am insurance poor, but one of them is not dental insurance. Would hate to think about a crown. A trip to the dentist can send you to the poor house in a hurry. Extraction is my usual remedy to a problem, but made the mistake of saying yes to a partial denture last summer. Not a good thing $$$. Patent the kernel catcher and sell it on television. Then live the homestead life in style. This used to be a hippie mecca in the 60s and 70s. Peel the onion a little and you usually found a money source.-take care- PS. see where Dave has resurfaced been following his blog.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Linn, Fudge is dangerous to us, too, although I would much rather die of over consuming fudge than cracked teeth.

    Someone already markets those grids, so I can’t get rich doing that, sadly. Around here, they call the funded homesteaders “trust fund hippies.” We are assumed to be in that group. I wish!

    I had a boss once whose standard method of dealing with dental problems was extraction. I continue to wonder if I could do the same. Mostly, I work hard to keep my teeth in good shape. I would definitely try to veto Michelle’s decision to extract rather than crown.

    Thanks for the heads up on Dave’s blog! I heard from Aly that they’d reached their destination, but I haven’t heard from them, nor did I know the blog had gone live again. This is kind of typical.

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