The smell of freshly popped popcorn is an almost essential part of any sporting event, fair, carnival or similar gatherings in America. It’s a great way for a vendor to make some money as a primary business or sideline too. But what’s the best industrial popcorn machine to buy when you want to prepare this buttery treat for your customers, guests or spectators?
You’ll save money and get the best experience from your commercial popcorn maker when you carefully compare features, power, materials, capacity and pricing before you make a purchase. Commercial popcorn poppers can be pricey, and it’s easy to pay too much or choose a machine that simply can’t keep up with the level of demand you’re expecting.
If you’re buying an industrial popcorn machine to use in your converted basement, game room or for occasional use at a party, maybe quality doesn’t matter that much since you may only use it a few times a year. Still, you don’t want something that will break down soon after you buy it and turn out to be a waste of money.
And if you’re buying for an event, concession stand, food court business or other commercial use, you need a machine that will endure heavy use for the days, months and years ahead. It makes sense to go with quality.
Here’s some advice on choosing a commercial popcorn popper that will maximize your sales or make your event better while minimizing your hassles.
What to look for in professional popcorn machines
Keep these things in mind when deciding which is the best industrial popcorn machine for your business or event needs:
Materials. Choose a commercial popcorn maker made of high-quality glass and steel. Units with plastic gears are cheaper and may look like the higher quality popcorn machines, but they won’t last long, letting you down when you need the most. Tempered glass means the unit is scratch resistant, safe and easy to clean. You also want a finish that will continue to look great year after year.
Capacity. You want a machine that will be able to pop enough popcorn in one batch to satisfy whatever size crowd you’re expecting. For most uses, a machine that cooks 12 oz or more of uncooked popcorn in its kettle is best. Smaller machines are usually only suitable for individual home use or other low-volume requirements.
Wattage. While there are many different wattages of commercial poppers available, the best commercial popcorn makers have 640 watts of power or more. Ideally, you’ll want a 1200-watt or greater model for most commercial uses. And be sure there’s a warming deck that keeps popcorn fresh and hot for hours after preparation.
Speed. Some machines are slow, and that’s fine for home use or a low-capacity event or business. But in most cases, quicker popping time is good for business. Who wants to wait? You don’t want customers to walk away or choose another vendor or leave guests disappointed because you can’t supply the snack they want.
The best commercial popcorn maker
Keeping these four criteria in mind, the commercial popcorn maker that I choose is the Great Northern TopStar Commercial Quality Bar Style Popcorn Popper Machine, available through this Amazon affiliate link. It meets all these criteria and more, and it comes with good reviews, a good reputation and an excellent brand name that’s respected in the industry.
This machine from Great Northern popcorn company has a large capacity, an all-metal gearbox, stainless steel powder-coated construction and 1350 watts of power. Additionally, it has separate switches for the spotlight warmer, stirrer and heater, which not all models have. It also includes kernel and oil scoops so you have everything you need to get started except the popcorn itself.
Perhaps more important than all these things, it makes great popcorn with a good flavor and the right amount of roastiness to keep your customers coming back. And it generates a great smell when popping that helps add atmosphere and bring guests in.
You’ll find it’s easy to assemble, easy to clean and durable. Some reviewers report using one of these for years and years with no or minimal repairs.
Also, it runs off 110-volt wiring, which means you don’t have to install a special 220-volt outlet to plug it into. In years past it was impossible to find a 1200-watt unit like that, so a true professional popcorn machine wasn’t something you could have at a church or a school for a small concession stand where you had no control over what type of power was available.
I’m impressed that this is a quiet unit, and a good-looking one too. I like the design, and if you compare it to others on the market, you’ll see that it has a sleeker and more professional appearance.
If you want something small and more old-fashioned
If you prefer an old-fashioned look, want a professional popcorn maker that comes with its own cart and don’t mind a smaller capacity, the same company makes other products that you might want to explore. Here’s one great choice: the Great Northern Popcorn Red Matinee Movie 8 oz. Ounce Antique Popcorn Machine and Cart, available from Amazon through this affiliate link.
It’s made of metal, stainless steel and tempered glass with an 8-ounce popping capacity to make 3 gallons of popcorn. This fun machine also has a warming deck if you don’t plan to serve all you make right away.
When you want something for your home, a low-volume business sideline or a small carnival, this may be the best commercial popcorn maker for your needs and is more easily portable than larger units.
Brand matters in commercial popcorn poppers
When you’re deciding which industrial popcorn machine to buy, brand matters – perhaps as much as features. You need a brand you can rely on, and Great Northern Popcorn Company is one of the most respected makers in the industry, a brand known for high-quality construction and durability at a sensible price.
Enhance your business, event or home with the smell and taste of fresh popcorn. Click here to learn more on Amazon about the best commercial popcorn maker available today.