Jiffy Pop, Jiffy Pop the magic treat — as much fun to make as it is to eat. I’ve known this jingle my entire life. Jiffy Pop was invented in 1959, three years before I was born.
As a kid, I loved to make my own food. It was a rush that I could make something usually produced by an adult, or a factory. For those of you, impossibly young, who are wondering “Jiffy Pop, WTF?” Jiffy Pop is popcorn, salt and oil mixed into an aluminum pie pan. That pan has a foil top and a wire handle. To make the popcorn, you simply shake the pan over a heat source—a fire, a stove, a black car hood on a sunny summer day—and the corn kernels begin to pop. It’s so safe and easy, even a little kid can do it.
The only danger is when you cut the foil lid, a blast of steam hot enough to burn your hand is released.
My childhood friend Blake Cornish had an Easy Bake Oven. He got it for his birthday when a parent, seeing the invite to his party, assumed that Blake was a girl. He and I would mix up the overpriced brand-specific batter and stick it into the oven to bake. The heating source was a light bulb.
I had a toy called the Mr. Peanut Peanut Butter Maker. The simplest toy on earth. You simply poured in a cup of peanuts, cranked a handle and ground the nuts into butter. The peanut butter sucked. It was flaky and unspreadable, but I loved it because I didn’t buy it, I made it.
Last week was Eli’s birthday. We got him a cotton candy machine. It’s a pretty high-tech gadget. Light years away from the Easy Bake Oven. You simply pour in a sugary powder—Kool-Aid, Gatorade, cane sugar, etc. The machine heats and spins the mixture, and spider webs of sweetness come squirming out.
He had a handful of friends over for a sleepover the other night. One hundred batches of cotton candy later, they went to bed… at 4:00 AM.