Unsolicited endorsement: the Chef'n PopTop Microwave Popcorn Popper

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71QGArxbwYL._SL1500_.jpgMy aunt gave me this funny-looking popcorn maker for Christmas last year and I'll be honest: when I opened it, I wondered if maybe she accidentally gave me the wrong gift. Not like I have anything against popcorn (I quite like it, actually) but it's not like I am famous for my love of popcorn. But it came with a thing of William Sonoma popping corn and I figured I'd give it a try.

Well, it worked like a charm and it's now one of my favorite things in my kitchen (compared to all these dumb, unused gadgets.) Here's how it works: you fill it up with about a third of a cup of kernels. I throw in a little olive oil and a few grinds of salt, although I'm sure one can go nuts and throw in truffle salt or flavored butter or things like that. You fold it all up origami style, stick it in the microwave, and 3 minutes later, you have a perfect serving of popcorn. It never burns, it leaves just the right amount of kernels unpopped (because any popcorn lover knows that's a key part to enjoying popcorn) and it makes the perfect amount of popcorn.

I didn't realize until I had this gizmo how handy it is to be able to make a nice portion of fresh-popped popcorn without having to make sure it doesn't burn. If our neighbors are coming over without much notice, if we're having a party and I'm short an appetizer, or if it's crappy weather out and we're doing a family movie night, it's a great time for popcorn. Plus, popcorn is one of the very few food items that all four members of my household can agree upon.

I know it sounds weird that I like this thing so much but so many things in my life are a pain in the neck right now, it's nice that this stupid popcorn maker is so reliable. So if you're hard up on gift ideas and have the vague memory somewhere that someone you love might like popcorn, try the PopTop. You just might pleasantly surprise someone.