Knowing China through Taiwan

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Mythbusters tests Chinese 'popcorn cannon' of yesteryear

  • Staff Reporter
  • 2013-01-24
  • 08:50 (GMT+8)
The popcorn machine from China tested on the US show Mythbusters. (Internet photo)

The popcorn machine from China tested on the US show Mythbusters. (Internet photo)

A machine as dark as a cannon sits on a stove. A man wrenches down the bellows and shakes the contraption while blasts of air rush into its belly. Soon after, with a bang and a puff of white smoke rising into the air, the sack covering the mouth of the machine is filled with hot popcorn.

This is a familiar childhood memory for many Chinese born in the 1980s, reports the online version of party mouthpiece People's Daily.

The traditional popcorn machine goes by the clunky description of "hand-reeled, cannon-shaped popcorn machine," or more pithily, the "popcorn burster."

The popcorn machine was featured on the Discovery Channel show Mythbusters, in which they were investigating the quickest way to make popcorn.

The hosts of the show, both special effects experts, did not take the popcorn cannon lightly. They installed bulletproof glass, wore explosion-proof clothing and had the handbook translated from Mandarin. After heating the shell for 10 minutes, they released the lever on the cannon, sending a shower of hot, popping kernels zipping through the air. Some ended up lodged in the ceiling.

Internet users waxed nostalgic after the video spread on the internet. Some even claimed that the taste of the popcorn from the cannon cannot be matched by any of today's popcorn machines.

"It's funny to see them (the hosts) wearing explosion-proof clothing to make popcorn. We have scared the Americans to death!" one netizen said.

Another netizen said that they forgot the most crucial step: covering the opening with a sack.

Who's Who

  • Hou Jianguo (侯建國)

    Hou Jianguo (侯建國)

    Hou Jianguo is president of the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Anhui province and was also a member of the 11th NPC Standing ...