i am not sure when we started getting away from real popcorn and heading towards microwaved. homemade will take you less than 10 minutes, is dirt cheap, and can be as healthy (or as buttered) as desired. on top of all of that it tastes much better. its smells and sounds remind me of jiffy pop on camp outs, or on family vacations in the camper when i was really young. by toasting the kernels before they pop you have added a depth of flavor (often why you toast different nuts and whole spices, and even some rice dishes before you use them) A cup of unpopped kernels will pop to be a great snack for three or four people and you are able to control the amount of flavorings added. a few years ago we actually had a hard time finding an air-popper to give to a friend as a gift, and i have actually not been able to find just popping corn kernels at more than a few grocery stores. pathetic. even if you air-pop (the second best way) you should give it a shot. while air-popping is healthy, and delicious it doesnt give you the toasted depth that you get from the stove top.
start with a heavy bottomed pan that has a lid. add a tablespoon or so of oil to the pan, then add the kernels, and a pinch of salt. turn the heat to medium-ish, cover the pan, and shake the pot back and forth over the burner. the oil will help to disperse the heat and help the kernels to lubricate themselves as they slide around the bottom of the warming pan. in a few minutes the aromas will change and the popcorn will smell toasted. keep shaking and continue even when it begins to pop. once you think the corn is about 80% done i usually shut off the heat, to prevent burning and allow the remaining heat to finish the job. this is easy stuff, stuff you dont have an excuse not to be doing. adjust the seasoning if desired and it is perfect just like that. add melted butter, or any sort of spices if you desire. i like really heavy cracked black pepper, or hot sauce and some lime, or some sort of spicy chili powder. no preservatives, better for you, tastes better, and a fun way to get the whole family involved.