When I was a kid we had one of those loud whirling plastic popcorn makers that was stored under the kitchen counter, way in the back, and only came out only on special occasions like Superbowl Sunday. Or when we went to a movie and my low-fat-loving mom would pop some plain corn (no butter) and divide it into plastic baggies which she could hide in her purse. We ate these after the lights went down, instead of the yummy buttery movie theater popcorn we could smell all around us.
It didn't bother me much at the time which is probably why I chose to similarly abuse my own children. Although we do eat movie popcorn, I don't make the microwave stuff for movie nights at home. There's something about that yellow powdery grease that clings to the insides of the bag that reminds me of cancer.
When I decided to make my own, I had no previous experience (that old air-popper went out with the 80s) so I learned online that one can make popcorn in a pot with oil, which is possibly what every other family was doing. What they didn't mention was that the pot always got a little burned and oil splattered everywhere and it was messy enough to suggest we have pretzels instead.
Then I learned the paper bag trick. Put 1/2 cup kernels in a regular school lunch paper bag. Fold the top down a couple of times until it will stay closed on its own and microwave it for 2-3 minutes or better use the microwave "popcorn" setting on the machine (how does it know??!!!) which seems to work perfectly every time. You will wind up with a bag of delicious if plain popcorn which you could hide in your purse, or you could drizzle in some melted butter or olive oil, a little salt and give the bag a shake.
Granted, it's doesn't smell quite as good as the store-bought microwave stuff but it's also not as lethal and there's easy cleanup. Plus you can invent your own toppings: flavored butters, different herbs and spices, parmesan cheese, soy sauce and a house favorite: bacon grease. Another trick: after seasoning with butter and salt, I sprinkle Bragg's yeast seasoning (see above) over the top which gives it a slightly richer taste—and that artificial yellow color which makes my kids happy.
** Post note: Interesting article in Food52 about how movie theaters make popcorn taste and smell so good (hint: Flavocol) and if you can recreate it at home.