Saturday, December 8, 2012

How to Clean the Popcorn Popper

Dear library employee or volunteer,

If you have taken over this responsibility from me, I am either dead or now outrank you - in either event, you have been promoted. Congratulations!
Ooh, popcorn! We love popcorn, right?

Now that you are in charge of family movie night, part of your job is to pop the popcorn. Unfortunately, you are also the cleaner of the popcorn popper. How sad for you.

As I have endured this procedure one too many times (ie ever), I have this process down to a science that minimizes discomfort. I share this knowledge with you from the goodness of my heart.

Step 1: Make peace with the popcorn.
This is what the "Authentic Butter Flavor" looks like before you cook it.
If you love popcorn, I’m sorry. (Read this in the voice of David Tenant as the tenth Doctor: I am so so sorry.) The knowledge of what is in your popcorn is a killing knowledge. You will die a little inside every time that “authentic butter flavor” residue touches your skin. After your cleaning experience today, you will never be able to enjoy popcorn again. If any is leftover from the movie earlier, have a seat and eat it. The popper can wait.

Step 2: Prepare yourself, your supplies, and your soul.
Break out your ipod and play something catchy, like “Eye of the Tiger” or “The Touch”. You will need
a. an empty sink
b. a full bottle of dish soap
c. a full roll of paper towels
d. a hazmat suit.
If you do not have a hazmat suit, that’s okay: you will not actually contract a horrible oily plague from touching the “authentic butter flavor” residue; you'll just feel like you have. Pray if you must. Doubtless some deity will listen, but none will offer aid.

Step 3: Scald yourself.
Fill the sink with hot water and about half the bottle of dish soap. The water will never be hot enough, as the “authentic butter flavor” residue can only be destroyed in the fires of Mordor from which it was forged, but do what you can, keeping in mind that after you have scalded all life and feeling from your hands, you will no longer be able to feel the “authentic butter flavor” residue.  

Step 4: Put on the hazmat suit.
Gather all the loose equipment except the kettle, such as the popcorn scooper, the catch tray, and the popper doors, and – without touching any of it – put it in the water to soak. Do not soak the kettle. The kettle is equipped with an electrical box and getting electrocuted isn’t fun for anyone. Put the kettle in the EMPTY half of the sink and fill it with hot soapy water. Let everything soak.

Step 5: Get used to yellow.
Now you can wipe down the insides of the box. Start with a generous handful of paper towels. (If you’re cheap or environmentally conscious, you may use a real cloth instead, provided you never want to use that cloth ever again.) Dip the paper towels in the hot soapy water and proceed to wipe down the glass walls of the popper’s box. These towels will come away yellow. Throw them away.
Next use a handful of wet paper towels, without soap. These will also come away yellow. Throw them away.
Now wipe the box with some dry paper towels – they’re still going to come away yellow.
End by spraying the box with glass cleaner and wiping down with fresh paper towels. You’ll begin to notice that the glass is looking nice and clean, although the paper towels are still coming away yellow. It’s best not to think about this.
However, if you did eat some of that popcorn in step 1, think about your arteries. Maybe consider some more time at the gym later.

Step 6: Confront the cauldron.
While you were cleaning the popper box, the sink full of soapy water was losing the battle against the “authentic butter flavor” residue. Your sink full of soapy water has become a cauldron full of thin, runny, “authentic butter flavor” residue, with soap bubbles in it.
You will have to put your hands in there.
I can’t talk about this. Figure it out for yourself.

Step 7: Cry.
By this time, the “authentic butter flavor” residue has corrupted your cells, like an inoperable cancer. Someday you will get used to the nasty “authentic butter flavor” residue: this is a sign that your soul has died and you are a hollow husk of your former self, but until that day, wash your hands as many times as you like.
It won’t work.

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