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How to Choose the Right Commercial Popcorn Machine

Popcorn cooker pops and some escapes out of it.

Commercial Popcorn Machine Buyers Guide

When shopping for a commercial popcorn machine, buyers can be bombarded with a wide array of options. But what may seem attractive online can be deceiving. Now, there’s a way to cut through the clutter. For a quality piece of equipment that performs exceptionally well, you must know the factors to consider. Keep reading for a basic overview of how to avoid a substandard popcorn machine.

Sales person and customer talk in a car dealership while the sales person eats from a bag of popcorn the dealership popped with their popcorn machine.

What to Look for in a Commercial Popcorn Machine

First and foremost, a commercial popcorn machine is engineered differently than those strictly for home use. At-home poppers are only meant to be used intermittently for small batches. For this reason, they do not withstand the taxing daily use of a commercial popcorn machine. You don’t want to buy a machine that isn’t up to the job. Here are some of the main differences to be aware of:

1. Kettle

The kettle construction is one of the primary differences. In lower quality machines the materials used are thinner and lighter. It is not durable. This is why Gold Medal recommends hands-on demos. In person, you can literally see and feel the difference. A true commercial popcorn machine will be heavy duty in construction.


2. Motor

Inefficient and cheap motors will impact the quality of your popcorn. Within the kettle, you want the motor to rotate at a slow pace of about 35-38 RPM. This gives the popcorn time to pop and rise out of the kettle. Subpar models turn at a fast rate of 50-70 RPM. This will chop the popcorn into little bits and pieces impacting the quality of your end product.


3. Kettle Capacity

The kettle capacity is something that one might assume is a standard measurement. However, in lower quality machines operators often discover they are getting less output than what was advertised. With Gold Medal poppers, the size of the kettle (6-oz, 8-oz, 12-oz, etc.) indicates the amount of popcorn you can expect with every three-minute batch. This ensures the fullest expansion and least amount of unpopped kernels. In cheaper versions, as much as 50% of the popcorn does not pop. This difference can be caused by variations in the physical size of the kettle and the application of the heat. Less popped popcorn per batch means higher costs per serving for the business.


4. Cook Time

When it comes to cook time, it is a delicate a balance. Too fast (under 3 minutes) and it limits the popcorn’s expansion. You’ll have popped popcorn that is very small in size. Too slow (upwards of 4 minutes) and you can end up with a lot of unpopped kernels and uneven batches. Having a popcorn machine that is engineered to pop for maximum quality makes a noticeable difference.


5. Additional Features

Another important factor to consider is what features are missing in a lower grade popper. Many of these characteristics are safety related. Here are just some examples of the features Gold Medal offers on many models:

  • Heated Corn Deck: This feature ensures that the environment remains dry and warm so the popcorn in the cabinet does not absorb moisture and go stale.
  • EZ Kleen Kettle: With a stainless-steel cook surface, it is simple to clean and maintain and has long-lasting performance.
  • Twin Arm Kettle Suspension: This safety feature helps to prevent spills and gives more work room within the cabinet.
  • PowerOff® Control: This will automatically turn off kettle heat after 15 minutes of idle time.
  • Heavy-Duty Door Construction: Thicker doors are made to resist breakage.


6. Ability to Service

If something goes wrong with your popcorn machine, the best-case scenario is to have a supplier that can assist you with parts and service. Many online-only options will leave you without that ability. Plus, with Gold Medal you have the added reassurance of a two-year parts, six-month labor warranty at no extra cost on all new poppers.

Gold Medal also offers lots of resources on our website. For a list of questions to ask when choosing a popcorn machine, please download our free guide, Which Popper is Right for Me? It will help you outline your specific needs and give you a basis to speak with one of our concession specialists. (Visit our Find a Dealer page here.)

A woman smiles as she scoops popcorn out of a popcorn machine by gold medal products with new LED Red and Black Popcorn sign.

Why Choose a Gold Medal Popcorn Machine

Gold Medal’s popcorn machines are made for commercial applications, ensuring top-tier performance and durability. When you need to produce significant amounts of popcorn on a consistent basis, you simply cannot put your trust in an unsatisfactory machine. Investing in a Gold Medal commercial popcorn machine will protect your bottom line and provide you with significant advantages over the competition.

Our machines are engineered to handle high-volume production, making them the perfect choice for concession stands from schools to stadiums, movie theaters, and more. With a reputation built on quality and reliability, Gold Medal popcorn machines deliver consistently delicious popcorn time after time.

Additionally, Gold Medal offers a range of models to fit various needs and budgets, all backed by exceptional customer service and technical support. By choosing Gold Medal, you’re not just buying a machine, you’re investing in a partnership committed to your success. Our machines are easy to operate and maintain, which means less downtime and more profits for your business.

Don’t settle for less when it comes to your popcorn production needs. Choose a Gold Medal popcorn machine and experience the difference in quality, performance, and peace of mind.

For more great resources about popcorn, visit the links below: