Air popcorn makers use hot air to pop popcorn in a hopper that heats up and circulates the hot air around the kernels. These units are relatively small and useful for counter top use and storage. The air popping mechanism is fairly clean and offers popping without much hands-on manipulation. The health benefits go up as there is no added oil or butter in the popping process. There are a few different sizes, but most are similar and familiar.
The most common type of air popper is the small standing counter top model with a removable cover and chute. These models usually feature butter warmers/melters built into the top of the chute cover. Beware that the butter will not melt if it is in cold, room temperature butter stands a better chance of melting. The easier method is to zap it in the microwave in a small microwave safe bowl or cup and then drizzle on the popped popcorn.
Being an oil free popper, the popcorn that comes out is light, airy and low-calorie. Some people find this popcorn too light and regard it as akin to Styrofoam. This may be true with the standard popcorn from the local market. Gourmet and specialty popcorn types are nicer in taste and texture despite the air popping process.
Visually this popcorn maker type is fun and kids will really light up when the first few kernels start to pop. Soon enough the chute is full and the popcorn comes tumbling out, much to the delight of the kids watching. No shaking, stirring or hands-on is required, just a big bowl under the chute to catch the booty! When the last kernel has popped and the machine is unplugged you should wait for an additional thirty seconds or so because there can be latent kernels that will pop. If the cover is off when one of these renegades blows it can really fly!
Overall the air popper can be a lot of fun for kids, a safe and easy to clean appliance for parents, and a convenient healthy snack maker for any individual. While there are some minor drawbacks to this type of popcorn maker, such as lighter popcorn and a somewhat ineffective butter tray, the merits of a quick, clean and easy to store popcorn maker are nice to have. It is worth a try to pop up a batch of fresh popcorn for your next home movie or sporting event on TV and enjoy a healthy and tasty snack.