they're just like the ones you've seen at the theater... 'cept smaller (well, mine is anyway)... it's basically a movable kettle tht heats up and a arm that stirs the pot... you dump in your oil, corn and whatever additive you like (butter/salt, salt, crushed red pepper - my brother in-law swears by this) and pull down the lid... 3 minutes later you have popcorn sitting in the bottom of the box.
Cleaning, as I now have first hand knowledge in, is a kind of a pain in the butt. The oil does splatter on the glass and bottom, so that needs to be wiped off, and I find a lot of widows (un-popped kernels) in places I have no idea how they go there... and the kettle itself needs to be wiped down good (to prevent anything from ruining a good popcorn experience next time out)... two things I'd highly recommend... get either a 8oz machine, or make someone with little hands do all the cleaning. I've taken to using a vacuum to suck out remaining kernels and corn, then I wipe down the insides with paper towels (abstain from using water on anything) and clean out the kettle and arm with the tools in from a cleaning kit... there's some de-carbonizing stuff and a brush and nice cloth in mine. All in all it's pretty simple, and if you keep up with it, it's not a problem.
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