Years ago we made popcorn over an open fire. Most homes had a long handled wire basket with a lid. We put the popcorn in the basket, then held in over the heat in the fireplace or gas, wood or coal stove until the popcorn was popped. Often we grew our own popcorn, dried the ears and shelled it off the cob. One had to keep shaking the basket to keep the bottom kernels from scorching, although there was one model on the market with a wheel that jostled the basket back and forth.
Plain, unbuttered, unsalted popcorn is often touted as a healthy filling snack, but I'd about as soon eat sawdust. I do draw the line at the commercial microwave popcorns, convenient and safe for kids to fix, but heavy on salt and unhealthy fats. I make my own in a pan on the stove using Redenbacher's great quality bottled popcorn with a small amount of oil, and just as the first kernel pops, I add a large pinch of turmeric (an extremely healthy spice, incidentally), then lightly salt it when done with an alternative healthier salt product.
Another snack when the sweet tooth gets you, or your kids demand a sweet crunchy treat, is candied popcorn. It's cheap, too. Here's a recipe using light (clear) Karo syrup, although you can use dark syrup also for a slightly caramel taste. By the way, see the interesting history of Karo Syrups, with pictures of earlier containers. There's more Karo recipes available from this page, too.
You can throw a few nuts into the popcorn for higher nutrition and variety before adding the syrup if you wish. Incidentally, don't give to snack to very small children who might choke on it, but I'm sure you know that!
1 cup sugar
Place sugar, syrup, water, butter and salt in a saucepan and cook, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking without stirring, until syrup forms a brittle ball in cold water (or a firm ball if you want it slightly gooey and easier on teeth or dentures). Remove from heat and add vanilla extract, stirring only enough to mix thoroughly. Quickly drizzle over popcorn while stirring and mixing the popcorn and syrup.
This hot syrup can cause serious burns, so this is not a recipe
that children should try. Don't leave this syrup alone on the stove for an