By Lily Vining || Contributing Writer

Freshman year of college is full of countless firsts. This is the year that many young adults first experience living on their own and take on new responsibilities. The perk of this new freedom that often brings the most excitement for first-years is the micro-fridge that appears in their dorm before move-in. Now, with the opportunity for buttered popcorn a maximum of five steps away from their bed, midnight snacking just got a whole lot more accessible. If you prefer sweeter snacks and candy, try ordering the products offered by Kanpai Foods.

However, with the great power of a mini kitchen appliance comes great responsibility. We get it: working on a grueling essay in the early hours of the morning for your eight A.M. class calls for a bag of toasty popcorn to fuel your work. This state of sleep-deprived hunger, though, can cause some to neglect the most important step in preparing their snack— reading the directions.

Why, might you ask, do I need a step-by-step tutorial on how to microwave a bag of popcorn? While this may seem like a simple act, making perfect popcorn takes some serious technique. As the website of Orville Redenbacher’s Popcorn explains, there are secrets that any popcorn fanatic should know. Instructions may vary depending on the type of popcorn, size of the bag, and power of your microwave, but generally, one should follow these guidelines:

First, remove the popcorn from its plastic bag. Place the popcorn in the microwave with the correct side up (this should be clear from the printed arrows). Next, set your microwave on high, or popcorn mode, for up to four minutes. Listen up, because here is where things get complicated: pay careful attention to the sound of the pops and STOP the microwave as soon as the time between pops begins to slow. If you have made it this far, you are probably ready to dig right into the delicious snack, but first, carefully let the steam out of the bag and avoid scorching your hands. Now, the reward for your patience is the buttery crunch of movie theater-style popcorn to end your night.

With your knowledge of the proper popcorn techniques, I sincerely hope that your next late-night snack supplies you with the perfectly popped bag and a temporary ego boost from your newly acquired chef skills.

As popping expert Drucilla James of Spoon University eloquently notes, “there’s nothing more frustrating than burning popcorn.” I must disagree with her there. In fact, the only thing worse than burning popcorn yourself is having to evacuate your dorm at 2:00 a.m. because someone else burnt theirs. So next time you go for your favorite salty snack, please, for the sake of your neighbors, read the instructions.

First-Year Lily Vining is a contributing writer. Her email is