This happens when you put an ear of corn over the fire. Once the fire gets hot enough, the corn becomes so hot that the kernels covering the cob immediately start popping, turning into instant popcorn.
In Real Life, "popcorn on the cob" is possible, but only if the right kind of corn is used and the ear of corn has been sufficiently dried out before cooking. Otherwise (such as with a freshly picked ear of corn), heating it over a fire only results in, well, roast corn on the cob (perfectly delicious, but not popcorn).
- There was a car commercial in the mid-90's where the car being advertised drove past a cornfield and caused all the corn to start popping right off the stalk.
- A scene in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West briefly showed an ear of corn being raised over the fire, then turn into a bunch of popcorn which Tiger promptly catches in his mouth.
- Ice Age actually did this with an acorn.
- Subverted in Megamind. In a flashback to their childhood, Metro Man uses his heat vision to quickly make some Jiffy Pop. Determined to outdo him, Megamind builds Minion's first set of Powered Armor and equips it with a laser to do the same, only he does it to a bucket of corn on the cob. This only succeeds in creating a small fire.
- In The Croods, this happens with giant ears of corn, which shoot off and explode in the sky like fireworks.
- In Sid Fleischman's McBroom's Wonderful One Acre Farm series, the weather becomes so hot that corn starts popping right off the stalks in the fields.
- In the Corner Gas episode "Air Show", when Hank's corn stand burns to the ground, Oscar complains that the corn isn't popping. Wanda starts to explain why it's impossible for fresh corn to pop, only for the corn to actually start popping in the middle of her sentence, shutting her up.
- In one Zits strip, Jeremy uses the microwave to pop baby corn on the cob, which he then eats using a pair of tweezers.
- An episode of Happy Tree Friends had Lumpy growing a giant ear of corn to be used for judging at the carnival, it happens to be a very hot day and the corn pops into popcorn and it ends up killing everyone.
- In Weebl & Bob "Pikea," Weebl and Bob are stuck in traffic behind a car driven by a corn-on-the-cob. When the sun shines directly into the corn's car, the corn pops. It's played for Black Comedy; the corn is aware of what's happening to it and screams as it starts.
- An episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh briefly featured popcorn as being popped on the cob. It ended up popping all over the place because Tigger put too much corn in the popper.
- Classic Disney Shorts:
- In "Mickey's Trailer", Goofy is eating corn on the cob when he accidentally sticks his fork in an electrical socket, causing the corn to pop as he gets shocked.
- In another Disney cartoon, Mr. Duck Steps Out , Huey, Dewey and Louie put an ear of corn in the stove until it starts popping, then send it down Donald Duck's throat. The popcorn popping inside him makes him dance spastically, especially when he stands next to the fireplace.
- Garfield and Friends:
- In the U.S. Acres episode "Cornfinger", this is how Orson solves the mystery of who keeps taking the corn from the silo. Roy was revealed to be the one stealing the corn by hiding it in his parka, so Orson outsmarts him by using an electric heater to pop all of the corn that Roy had been stealing.
- This event mirrors the climax of Orson's usual Imagine Spot earlier in that same episode. Double-O Orson bears a spy watch that's actually a hefty explosive (a "highly radioactive thermonuclear exploding grelbin device" to be exact). He arms it, it gets accidentally tossed under P. Cornfinger's limousine (which the stolen corn is hidden inside), and you can guess what happens when the explosion heats the car up.
- Similarly, in his Imagine Spot in "For Butter or Worse", Power Pig needs to stop a wave of melted butter (It Makes Sense in Context). He accomplishes this by heating up a cornfield with his heat vision until it all pops, allowing the newly made popcorn to catch the butter. (Orson's method of solving the out-of-Spot problem does involve popcorn but is unrelated to this trope.)
- The Simpsons season 10 episode "They Saved Lisa's Brain," had this. During the "How Low Can You Go?" talent show (in which contestants perform the lowest, most disgusting acts ever), Homer wears a popcorn kernel suit and uses some blow-dryers to make them pop while singing a parody of Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" called "Hot Buttered." Soon, the suit gets too hot, Homer gets 4 out of a possible 10 for his "act," and Homer gets attacked by the chickens Barney was supposed to use for his act (which was Barney drinking an entire six pack and juggling chickens, but the audience thought his act was just drinking the six pack of beer and belching).
- Occurs in reverse on Futurama. When the Planet Express ship is sent back in time, a bag of microwave popcorn has turned back into an ear of corn.
Fry: Aw, it's less popped than ever.
- Applejack's corn field spontaneously begins popping in the season 2 premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. In this case, there isn't even any fire (in fact, it's raining - chocolate milk, but still), as it's being caused by Discord.
- A Foghorn Leghorn cartoon ("The High and the Flighty") had this when Foghorn Leghorn gets an ear of corn attached to some electrical wires. It pops the feathers off his body and turns his crest into a giant popped piece of popcorn.
- A Woody Woodpecker cartoon had Woody using a blowtorch to pop the kernels on an ear of corn some animals were carrying.
- In the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog episode, "Birth of a Salesman", Scratch accidentally clones Sonic with one of Wes Weasley's devices while hiding out in a cornfield. The real Sonic makes a trail of fire and each of his clones holds a corn stalk over it, resulting in a giant popcorn ball that chases Scratch and Grounder away.
- Dragon Tales, Ord cooks popcorn by throwing the unpopped kernels into the air and roasting them with his fire breath.