It's no mystery that the hot air popcorn popper is a standard tool for many home roasters. They are inexpensive, easily modified and roast excellent tasting small batches. The down-side is finding one that works well. The legendary West Bend Poppery II is no longer in production and used models need to be hunted down in thrift stores and on the internet. Web forums are helpful in determining which models work well but your local store may not carry the same poppers as the stores your fellow forum posters shop at. Buying online works, but knowing if the popper you want has the air vents in the right place (they need to be on the walls of main cylinder...poppers with mesh on the cylinder's floor are no good) requires a trip back to the web forums. Thrift stores are hit or miss. I went to every thrift store and Walgreens near where I live numerous times and came up dry while Tom was able to find a used West Bend at a thrift store he knew of, for only a few bucks on his first visit. Here's the video from Tom's trip to the thrift store. Also check out his basic tutorial on roasting with a popper here.
We decided to help our customers and future roasters by doing some research on our own. We purchased a few poppers from large manufacturers and put them to the test, keeping in mind that it would be nice to one day produce our own machine with the specs we feel necessary. So who knows, our next new product announcement could be for Sweet Maria's very own popper or at least one made by someone else.