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June 7, 2024 18 mins

Holly and Tracy discuss ways that they like to make popcorn, and historical recipes that used popcorn. They also talk about the incorrect assumption that iodized salt is the cause of an overall rise in blood pressure statistics.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Welcome to Stuff you missed in History Class, A production
of iHeartRadio, Hello and Happy Friday. I am Polly Fry
and I'm Tracy B. Wilson, and we talked about popcorn.
We did. I love it. I do too. Do you
do dinner popcorn? No, but tell me, Okay, So here's

(00:25):
what I do. I love to do popcorn with a
lot of parmesan cheese and olive oil, and I put
rosemary in there. Or I'll infuse the olive oil with
rosemary first and then I'll do bacon bits. And it's

(00:45):
dinner popcorn. That's what I eat for dinner. Sometimes that
sounds really good. I mean, there have been a number
of times that I've eaten popcorn for dinner, but like
not in a way that I have. I need the proteins,
so I got to add others. That's good. Yeah, yeah,
oh man, I love it. I really am getting a
little obsessed with the idea of making my own candied
popcorn mixes. I don't know what that's about. I don't

(01:05):
need that. I mean that sounds fun, but it does
sound fun. Yeah, I always can kind of justify it
in my head. As we have built out our lower
level of the house to be kind of entertainment village
that I'm like. But if people come over and they
want fresh glazed popcorn, and then I right right, you
need that, You need to have it. You need it.
How are you preparing your popcorn? I do many different ways, Okay,

(01:31):
so I sometimes do it on the stove. Alton Brown
had a how to on how to always get perfect
popcorn in like a you know, a steel bowl on
the stove, and I use that sometimes. Sometimes I do
it just in a saucepan. I have an R two
D two air popper that is a danger to myself
and others because it shoots one. It's huge, it's enormous two.

(01:52):
It's the shoot design isn't awesome. Okay, it's cute as pie,
and it works really well on a popshop popcorn, but
it shoots white hot chunks of both unpopped kernels and
freshly pop popcorn all over the kitchen. It's r tood
to Doing this makes it so funny. It's pretty good.

(02:13):
So if I ever use it, which I do sometimes
because I do like air pop, I have to like
build a little foil funnel for it so that it
won't harm me or my cat's or husband, yeah, or
like hit a piece of glass and break it or whatever.
And sometimes I do microwave. There's a microwave brand that
I really like because it has no salt, no oil,

(02:35):
and sometimes I just like to start fresh. The other
thing that I have started doing is experimenting with mushroom popcorn,
which is not made of mushrooms. It's just called that.
It's a popcorn more like the kind you would get
in the theme park often that are. It's made for
candy coating because it makes more of a sphere and

(02:55):
it is a little bit stuff because sometimes when you
put candy coating gun right now, popcorn collapses and melts.
But this has better structural integrity, so it's better for that.
So there's a lot of Again, my beloved hates popcorn.
Oh no. He worked in a movie theater when he

(03:15):
was in high school and then I think a little
bit in college and it was just like he ate
too much popcorn, and he doesn't I understand. He has
he has met his quota of lifelong popcorn concession, done
with it, and he wants no more. Yeah, so it's
on me if I make popcorn. Yeah, we are mostly
an air popper household currently. We used to have a

(03:36):
thing that went on the stovetop that had a little
thing in it that you could turn a crank and
it would move the kernels inside so that like nothing
burned or stuck. I found it really challenging to clean
it adequately. When I was a kid, we had a

(03:56):
like a particularly heavy pot saucepan that we would use
on the stove that was like really good for doing popcorn.
And and we also had a thing it had sort
of a bowl and a lid, and you would put
your oil down in the bottom of the bowl. You
would put your kernels down in there, and it put
the lid on it. It plug it into the wall.

(04:16):
It would heat up and pop all your stuff, and
then you just flipped it upside down and that lid
became the bowl to eat it out of. Yeah, so
that's pretty cool. I remember those. I'm sure that's the
thing that still exists. But yeah, we also used to
grow popcorn. We grew popcorn in the garden for a
fish season, which was a fun experiment, but the popcorn

(04:37):
that we could buy at the store was better. Yeah,
because you're not doing like the industrial drying process and
stuff that makes it, which is actually you've lived a
good example of probably why a lot of indigenous cultures
were like, let's just grind this down and we'll use
it as a meal kind of thing. Yeah, because it
naturally is not automatically great. So a couple of weeks ago,

(05:00):
I was on a little sort of vacation. Vacation is
it was not that long. It was a couple of
days that I took off work and I took the
train to Western Massachusetts. I went to Pittsfield. Two popcorn
related things happened. One is that there was a movie
theater right down from where the hotel that I was
staying at, and I had already looked at the schedule

(05:20):
to see if there was anything I wanted to see
that was gonna line because I was only there for
one night and nothing really worked. But I walked past
and the door was open, and the smell of the
movie theater popcorn hit me, and I was like, I
wanted to walk in and be like, I don't I'm
not buying a ticket, Can I just get some popcorn?
Which I did not wind up doing. I kind of

(05:42):
regret that still, though that would have been fun. The
other thing is I walked past I want to call
it a popcorn wagon. It looked a lot like a wagon,
but sort of a cross between a wagon and a
food truck, like big enough for somebody to get in there,
just sitting out on the sidewalk in Pittsfield. And apparently

(06:02):
that thing has more than one hundred year history. Now
it is part of a summer job training program that
Goodwill does where you can just walk up to it
and you know, order popcorn through the little window of
this wagon out on the streets, red wagon with like
golden wheels. And I was like, I did not know

(06:26):
all that whole story until just now, But I was like, boy,
do I love the fact that I just walked past
this popcorn wagon whatever it is? Yes, oh I love it.
What is? Are you like a classic buttered? Are you
like a kettle corn girly? What is your popcorn zone?
I like to do a lot of different things with popcorn.
When I was a teen and I did not have

(06:50):
the problems that I have with hypertension today, I would
put soy sauce on there. Oh yeah, which you had
to be careful with because too much soy sauce. It
would just like melts, it will also collapse it. But
I like I like like sort of the classic movie
theater butter and salt situation again with the hypertension mindfulness,

(07:12):
and I like to put a variety of different flavors
on there. I discovered putting tahene on popcorn oh so good.
So putting like there are various powdered seasonings onto the popcorn.
Super good. I don't currently have kettle corn seasoning, but
I like kettle corn seasoning a lot, White Shuddar seasoning

(07:35):
and Linda Belcher kettle corn. There have been I didn't
get into it in the episode. Some interesting recipes involving
popcorn in many cookbooks over the years, but one thing
that was interesting to me was like in nineteen oh five,
the Fanny Farmer cookbook had a recipe for clam and

(07:58):
corn soup and it involved using popcorn as your garnish
instead of crackers. Okay, and apparently that was something that
Teddy Roosevelt loved. He always preferred popcorn to crackers in
his soup. I'm really curious about this, and I'm gonna
try it sometime. But yeah, I'm also curious about like
what the texture of the popcorn they were using was like,

(08:20):
because I feel like most of the popcorns that I
have used here in the twenty first century and lap
the twentieth century. Also like if you put that in
a liquid or a broth, even a like a creamy broth,
like a like a clam chowder, it's gonna just go
get a melt. Yeah, so what what what would that

(08:43):
be like? I don't know. There were some mentions that
I saw of it being used almost as a thickener
in some recipes, like counting on it to melts. But
like I still have that thing of like yeah, but
you still have little bits of husk then that are
in the like do you straight those out? Do you

(09:05):
pick them out? Like how do you manage or do
you just pick it off of the husk before you
put it in for the And I didn't. I didn't
go down that rabbit. Yeah, a number of the ways
of preparing it that we talked about in the episode.
I'm like, that feels like you would have popcorn full
of sand, Like you're never gonna get that sand out?
How did this work? Yeah? I don't. I was with you.

(09:25):
I the first time I read about the no you
just throw it in the hot ash and stir it,
and I was like, no, thank you. Yeah. I So
when I was a kid, there were a couple of
times that we made popcorn over a fire, either a
campfire or the fire in the fireplace, And even though

(09:45):
we had a thing that was meant to do that with,
always wound up with some like straight up burned portion
of it. Like it's just it's uh, you know, if
we had more experience with it, you might have done
and better, but like, we always wound up with some
inedible popcorn. Yeah, I think that's pretty common. I like

(10:07):
a lightly burnt popcorn because then it's like it just
crumbles to dust in your mouth. I love that. But
I like almost all popcorn. Yeah. Lately I'm craving can't
like butterscotch popcorn, which I think I'm gonna have to do. See,

(10:28):
I'm like everything bagel seasoning. Yes, it is so good
on popcorn. Yeah, so good on popcorn. I love it. Yeah,
I will. I will use all the things anyway. Popcorn popcorn, Yeah,
popcorn popcorn. I love you popcorn. Yeah, it's absolutely delicious.
I like it a lot. Thank you, Universe. For popcorn. Nice.

(10:52):
Thank you all of the indigenous peoples that cultivated maize, right,
because otherwise we wouldn't have pop wouldn't have it. Yeah,
it's it's so interesting all of those the long list
of places that that whole myth of how they were
giving popcorn to the colonists. It's so weird. Literally using

(11:17):
popcorn to like whitewash those stories and make them palatable
is so weird to me. Yeah, but there it is popcorn.
We talked about iodized salts on the show this week.

(11:39):
We did thanks for personal curiosity. In addition to the
Washington Post article that's that inspired the whole thing, which
we mentioned at the top of the show, there was
also a couple of years ago an article in the
The London Review of Books. I think that all of

(11:59):
this in the show notes, but that focused more on Switzerland,
and both of them were just so interesting to me
and made me want to learn more and do a
whole episode. So various articles that sort of relate to
this in some way kind of made it sound like
we added iodine to the salt for this whole thyroid thing,

(12:20):
but now everybody has high blood pressure, and it made
it sort of sound like the iodine addition had somehow
led people to consume more salt, which led people to
have high blood pressure, and that is not the process.
Like people's salt intake didn't really change with the adding
of iodine to salt. People just started buying iodized salt

(12:42):
instead of the other salt that they were already using.
And then, as we said in the episode, like way
bigger source of sodium in the typical American diet is
like canned and processed foods that are made, you know,

(13:03):
in mass quantities to purchase at the grocery store and
boxes and cans and whatever, and typically the salt used
to make those foods is not iodized salt. So it's like, yes,
people are eating more salt, Yes, that's correlated with more
people having high blood pressure, but most of that additional

(13:25):
salt that has become part of the diet since then
is like not idized salt related to iine. I think
this is one of those things where it's easy to
blame something other than like, yeah, your dietary choices, because listen,
none of us, myself included, want to have to make
dietary changes for no better health. But sometimes you gotta yeah. Well,

(13:46):
and I think one of the things that can feel
easier if you're trying to reduce your sodium intake is
to switch to a salt substitute for your like table
salt seasoning purposes, right, And like, I'm not making a
medical advice here, that just sort of means that, like
you might be weeding a source of iodine out of

(14:09):
your diet that you need without necessarily tackling the larger
source of sodium in the diet. It just it amused
me that so many articles that I read seemed to
present this as like a process that went from iodized
salt to hypertension, and I was like, that's not right,

(14:31):
really how that worked. Another thing I found very frustrating
is that a lot of the articles that I read
really were focused on the economic impact of so many
people having like hyper thyroid symptoms of like lethargy and
brain fog and stuff like that, so sort of focusing
on how much it was costing employers in the country

(14:53):
to have so much hyperthyroidism, rather than having any inkling
about like the quality of life for the people who
were dealing with this, Right, and we saw the same
thing or I saw the same thing in some of
the research about the migraine episode that we did a
while back, and I kept finding statistics that were about

(15:13):
like labor hours lost to migraine, and I was like,
I don't want to include disinformation in the show at all,
because I don't think we need to be reducing human
beings and you know, debilitating medical conditions down to whether
you are making money for your employer or not. Right, listen,

(15:34):
we understand you don't feel great, but how hard are
you able to work is really the bigger issue. So frustrating.
There was also a dispute that I did not get
into it all. I only found one brief reference to
it that apparently the commissioner of the State Board of
Health in Michigan, whose name was R. M Ullen, published
this letter in the Medical Society Journal in nineteen twenty

(15:56):
four where he sort of seemed to try to take
credit for the whole idea of adding iodine to the salt,
when the other people involved with it were like, no,
it was more like we invited him to be part
of this, found him really hard to work with, kind
of quietly managed him out of being involved, and like

(16:21):
now he's trying to take credit for it, and that
simultaneously seems like maybe a very interesting personal dispute to
explore and also something I didn't find much about aside
from this like one reference, and it became a thing
of if I try to research this personal drama, it
is going to sidetrack me from finishing the episode. Yeah. Also,

(16:44):
bickering is not always documented terribly well yeah, uh, that's
totally true. So yeah, we definitely have a number of
different salts at our house. We have like there is
there is an iodized sea salt that gets used in
various cooking, but like we also have a fancy like

(17:06):
finishing sea salt for sprinkling on top of things when
you're oh yeah about to you know, serve them. And
we have you know, a salt grinder and a pepper
mill and a lot of the like rock salt that
would go into a grinder a lot of times that's
not iodized. So there have been times where I'm like,

(17:28):
am I kidding enough iodine? And then I think about
how much, like how much sushi I eat that involves
right seaweed, and I like probably, all right, Yeah, I'm
a fan of salt. Yeah, I love it. My thing
lately has been black lava salt, which I like to
sprinkle onto creemy drinks m because it brings out neat

(17:51):
things and it also makes cool patterns at the top,
which is also not iodized. But it is delicious. Yeah.
Anna's cut like a nice little smoky flavor. I mean
to do it. Yeah. So yeah. You know, if you're
cooking something amazing this weekend, whatever salt you're putting in it,
I hope it's your favorite salt. Do people have favorite salts?

(18:13):
I think we do at our house. Uh. And you know,
if you've got to go out and work, I hope
your day goes well and everybody is great to you.
We will be back with a Saturday classic tomorrow and
with something brand new on Monday. Stuff you Missed in
History Class is a production of iHeartRadio. For more podcasts

(18:35):
from iHeartRadio, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever
you listen to your favorite shows.

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Tracy V. Wilson

Tracy V. Wilson

Holly Frey

Holly Frey

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