Zap it!

Oven-sized microwaves for the home were introduced in 1955, but not until the 1980s did shrinking sizes and prices attract buyers. Although manufacturers envisioned home cooks using microwaves to prepare traditional meals with all the trimmings, not many did. Instead, most households used the microwave to zap frozen foods, leftovers—and popcorn.
Product flier, 1955

Product flier, 1955

Look at the menus, not just the promised time savings!

“Cook today . . . tomorrow’s way.”

—Flier for the first household mircrowave oven, 1955

Microwave oven, 1974

Microwave oven, 1974

U.S. patent for the first popping bag, filed 1973

U.S. patent for the first popping bag, filed 1973

A metalized fi­lm between paper layers of the bag absorbs microwaves and concentrates heat enough to pop the kernels.

Microwave popcorn first appeared in supermarkets in 1981, but it had to be kept cold to keep the butter from turning rancid. Bags that could be kept at room temperature hit the shelves in 1984.