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Oncle Sam popcorn machine pops one piece at a time


November 26, 2012

The Oncle Sam popcorn machine (Photo: ECAL/Nicolas Genta)

The Oncle Sam popcorn machine (Photo: ECAL/Nicolas Genta)

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Oncle Sam is a popcorn machine art installation which focuses on popping corn one kernel at a time, allowing the user to partake of a tasty snack without consuming too many calories.

The leisurely popcorn machine utilizes a tea-light candle to heat a single grain of corn. Once duly popped, salt is also added for flavor. Each step of the process is performed with low-tech levers and pulleys, and produces just one finished popcorn at a time, perhaps increasing the appreciation of flavor as a result.

Oncle Sam was created by Ecole cantonale d'art de Lausanne (ECAL) students Laurent Beirnaert, Pierre Bouvier, and Paul Tubiana for ECAL’s Low-Tech Factory exposition – the same project which was home to the Rocking-Knit Chair.

This short promo video demonstrates Oncle Sam popping corn.

Source: ECAL, via designboom

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

It solves the 'I have to finish off the bowl' problem.


Humm? Is it me? Or does this sound like another stupid dieting gimmick? I have always, and my family & friends eat pop corn bye the 'hand's' full, The only time I/we eat them one at a time is when your at the bottom of the cup, and that's to sort out the uncooked corn pieces that can break your teeth PS;; how would this work when where at the movie theatres ? Again:: who out there eats one piece at a time????

Richard Handel

Love it, these students are really creative.

With the advent of electronic control systems I feel that we are losing some of the pure mechanical skills which were so strong in the 19th Century.


one corn at a time, when i'll be able to eat a bowl full of pop corn? in 2022?

Amanullah Rana

It would be more interesting, at least, if it was automated by a sterling engine. both could be run of the same candle, and it consumes no fuel except heat. With a band spring, a few cogs and levers, you could have a machine that would deliver one piece at a time, at a steady pace, without needing further input.


Reminds me of Val Kilmer in "Real Genius".

Gregg Eshelman
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