By Ned Hickson
Cooking can be dangerous, especially when it includes all three components of what experts call the Triangle of Fire:
1) A heat source
2) Combustible material
3) My wife.
While I can vouch for her having absolutely nothing to do with any wildfires, she was in fact responsible for the 1992 Dallas, Tex., popcorn smoke-out at Keller Springs Apartments, which cost us a good stainless steel pot and most of our cleaning deposit.
It only took that one experience for us to realize just how dangerous popcorn kernels can be once their internal temperature exceeds 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit - and only five more times before I banned the substance from our home completely, including microwavable popcorn. I'll spare you the details of what prompted that decision, but let me just say that if your microwavable popcorn bag is ever allowed to expand to the size of your favorite pillow, DO NOT open it.
Our government has special underground dump sights specifically designed for this kind of toxic material; please use them. However, even with all of the precautions we've taken, it would seem that our family has been overlooking another potentially dangerous component in the Triangle of Fire:
The Flaming Pop-Tart.
According to a Philadelphia newspaper, that's exactly what happened to an unsuspecting New Jersey woman who said her kitchen caught fire after her cherry-flavored Pop-Tart "burst into flames like a blow torch!" I'll be the first to admit that a fiery breakfast treat spewing artificial fruit filling would be a scary thing. In fact, aside from finding the real "Cap'n Crunch" floating around in my cereal bowl, I can't think of a more frightening breakfast experience. However, there are a couple of things worth noting about the flaming Pop-Tart incident - the first of which is that my wife had nothing to do with it. She doesn't even know anyone in New Jersey.
Secondly, the Pop-Tart in question had been left unattended for 20 minutes. It was during this time that investigators believe the Pop-Tart "freakishly ignited" as a result of either a) the toaster malfunctioning, b) the pastry malfunctioning, or c) the surprisingly combustible nature of artificial fruit filling.
To ensure the safety of the general public, investigators called in agents from both the FBI and CIA to make sure that the burning Pop-Tart was, indeed, an isolated incident with absolutely no link to any terrorist channels.
In addition, they also ruled out my wife, and any links to her watching The Food Channel.
In case you were wondering, investigators have also decided against the possibility of spontaneous combustion as a cause for the blaze. This conclusion was reached after days of around-the-clock observation of assorted Pop-Tarts in a controlled environment, after which the following joint statement was released by the agents involved in the study:
In any case, the fact that we don't have to worry about living in a world of spontaneously combusting Pop-Tarts is something that should help us all rest a little easier.
But I'd still suggest keeping them away from the popcorn, though.
Just to be safe.
You can write to Ned Hickson at:
The Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR 97439.