In 1819, well before Al Gore invented the internet, Jacob Bromwell came up with the idea to design and build only the highest quality goods. No, not for hanging pictures or getting out stubborn stains, or even drying your car (the auto hadn’t been invented yet, silly). He wanted to produce housewares. Today, Jacob Bromwell is America’s oldest cookware company, offering items for cooking and baking, whether in your kitchen, or over a campfire. And they’ve managed for a good portion of those 190+ years without the internet, and not a single late-night infomercial. Instead, they’ve relied mostly on word of mouth to sell their US-made goods, with satisfied customers sharing their experiences with friends and family. And now strangers, over the internet.
Since I appreciate handmade goods, especially those that have proven themselves over nearly a couple hundred years, I dropped a hint to my wife and kids a while back that I might like to get something from Jacob Bromwell for Father’s Day. Well, no one got that hint, but I still managed to get my hands on their classic popcorn popper recently. Keeping in mind that it’s handmade, the simple folded corners and rolled edges are still extremely well executed. I’m sure they didn’t have electric drills or hydraulic brakes (for cutting the holes and bending sheet metal) back when this was designed, making the construction all the more impressive. It’s certainly durable as well, from the thick (but not too heavy) sheet metal, to the wire handle, this should stand up to plenty of use, while creating the kind of family memories you can’t get sitting around the Wii.
Figuring that nothing less than a comprehensive review was in order, it was tested over an open campfire, a camp stove, and an indoor stove. Several batches were made with and without oil. Once we got the hang of it, results were the same, regardless of the heat source or oil – bunches of fluffy white popcorn, with only a few un-popped kernels each time. Speaking of which, if you turn it over and give it a good shake, those deadbeats that refused to drop will fall right out. There were a few downsides, but they seemed perfectly acceptable. Unless you’re a couple enjoying a little romance by the fire, figure on more than one batch. My neighbors required four batches for themselves and their four boys aged 13-20. Depending on how big your fire is, the handle may seem a bit short. With a large fire pit, reaching over the fire can get a bit uncomfortable. After using it a few times on a stove top, the finish wore on the bottom in a few spots. It may need some light oil before being put away, but we’ll keep an eye on that and report back if that turns out to be an issue.
Overall, it did a fine job of making popcorn, and everyone seemed to enjoy having a turn at using it. Jacob Bromwell’s suggestion that this could end up as a family heirloom seems perfectly reasonable, especially if your family enjoys camping and similar outdoor activities together.
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