Hidden Aldi tip proves you’re making popcorn all wrong

Aldi has taught us oh, so many things. We’ve learned to pack our own groceries (and not to forget to bring reusable bags). We’ve learned how to put together a complete 3-ingredient meal. We now know that award-winning wines need not bust our budgets. We’ve been surprised to find high-quality housewares at a grocery store. And of course we all look forward to Wednesdays, the day of the week when the new Aldi Finds are released.

Who knew, however, that Aldi had one more trick to teach us? According to one sharp-eyed Aldi shopper (via Yahoo! Lifestyle Australia), if you take a close look at the bag (not the box) of each individual packet of Aldi’s microwave popcorn, you’ll see a list of “popping hints.” The very first hint listed points out something we’ve all been neglecting to do: “For best results, preheat the microwave oven by heating a cup of water for one minute on high. Remove cup of water before popping corn.” Wow. Mind blown.

Should we have already known this popcorn tip?

So, how long has this information been out there? In terms of how long it’s been on Aldi’s packaging, we really can’t say, but evidently this corn-popping tip has been around for over 10 years. One user of the Straight Dope Message Board posted in 2009 stating that their store-brand bag of microwave popcorn gave this same advice, and was asking why water would help the corn pop faster or better or whatever it’s supposed to do. 

They received several possible answers, one of which read, “The internal parts of the microwave cooking compartment (walls, floor, door, turntable dish) won’t need to heat up when you go to heat up the popcorn, and that makes the process faster and more consistent,” and another that explained, “Boiling the water makes steam, the steam/vapor remaining in the oven when you pop the popcorn is more efficient at transferring heat evenly to the popcorn, and helps temper cold spots in the microwave.”

There’s also a tip for reheating pizza in the microwave that calls for putting a glass of water in along with your leftovers since it somehow sucks up the excess microwaves. Since Aldi recommends removing the water before putting in the popcorn, that excess microwave thing probably isn’t the reason the popcorn hack works. Still, the point is that it evidently does work… well, maybe.

How the popcorn hack works

The Aldi shopper who originally broke the news about the “popping hints” did not say whether or not she’d tried the tip, and other commenters quoted by Yahoo! admitted that they’d never even seen them, with typical responses including, “Can’t say iv [sic] ever actually looked at the instructions just cook it till it stops popping” and “Omg I’ve never read the packet.”

There were two corn-popping pioneers, however, who did give it a go, and their results were mixed. One woman boasted that she was aware of the hack and was already using it: “Yes and it actually works! I’m weird and read instructions just to see if manufacturers know their sh*t.” As far as exactly how well it worked, she explained that every kernel had popped and that the butter melted all over the popcorn. The second person to try it, however, was less impressed, saying they didn’t notice any difference whatsoever. It seems that, in order to gather more information about whether the Aldi way to pop corn really is a game-changer, we’re going to need a much larger experimental group. So come on and do your part! Hey, it’s an excuse to eat popcorn, all in the name of science.

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