Microwave Popcorn

It’s usually around 3pm that the smell of microwave popcorn drifts from the “kitchen” down the hall. In every office environment I’ve worked in, someone, some time has entered the codes that yield the unmistakable odor: a plasticy, semi-burnt, definitely artificial butterish smell that is simultaneously appetizing and revolting. Different in category from movie theatre popcorn, the wafting of microwave popcorn represents the desperate for anything at all to eat triumph of expedience over care. It permeates the environment for hours—if only the taste were as powerful as its overbearing presence.

About Samantha

2006 - Portland, OR Samantha Soma is an erstwhile aromatherapist, collects vintage and modern perfumes, and is in love with the sense of smell. She lives in the Northwest, which means that books, coffee, wine, beer, and humidity play large roles in her personal experience.
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10 Responses to Microwave Popcorn

  1. Jill says:

    That is SO true…and in my office break room, there is one microwave that is way too powerful for popcorn – and someone chars a bag to a crisp at least once a day. That is a smell that lingers!

    One late afternoon someone called the fire department because they smelled “smoke”. After evacuating our building and keeping us outside for a few minutes, the firefighters emerge from the building holding a charred popcorn bag from their gloved fingers. They were not amused! 🙂

  2. Noel Franus says:

    No kidding. We overburned some popcorn on movie night at the house recently, and that stench permeated the kitchen for months.

    Being that I’m a sound guy, I’m surprised that nobody’s invented a simple mechanism that sits inside the bag and emits a “yer done” noise once the popcorn bag has been expanded to full potential.

    Hmm, using your ear to save your nose. I like that.

  3. Samantha says:

    Brilliant, Noel! I predict your first million is on its way…

    You could even have municipal fire departments featured in the commercials: the sensor works to reduce nuisance calls, which keeps the fire fighters freed up for more important things.

  4. Pingback: History of the Button » Blog Archive » The Oven vs. The Microwave

  5. Jim Sokolove says:

    People stink up my office with that shit! WTF? I’ll have to cut off the supplies…

  6. Ricky says:

    I loooove to burn popcorn and then fart fart fart in our office kitchen. I get a kick out of everyone asking, “what is that SMELL?” I am the poopcorn bandit.

  7. Leigh says:

    It’s so weird. I’ve had two FT jobs after college (so far, and I graduated in ’05) and at both, I knew it was 3pm by the smell of microwaved pop corn lingering in the air! Why is it always at 3, though? Is it a secret society that announces their daily meetings to other members by sending pop corn “aromas” into the office? Bizarre!

  8. Leigh says:

    LMAO! I just discovered an answer to my Q:

    There is a weekly FA meeting and the popcorn is for them! I work at an investment company…. Sometimes FAs (financial advisors) act as if theirs is a secret society, so there ya go! 😛

  9. Turdo says:

    Workplace microwaves are like workplace toilets

    They’re both communal and nobody likes the smell of somebody else’s shit.

    I use neither insofar as possible

  10. Cheryl says:

    Check out the book “Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams” -DeMarco and Lister with reference to the popcorn! 🙂
    We used to get emails about how microwave popcorn was “forbidden”, as the office was not to smell like a carnival – burnt or otherwise 😦
    I love the smell but cannot really blame them when you have C level client reps walking around…
    However the best part of it was, that due to the “restriction” – it also gave us a good excuse to “go commando” and try and run a bag through – how to get an easy adrenalin rush!

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