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David Emery

Cell Phone Popcorn? It's an Urban Legend.

By June 10, 2008

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Screenshot of YouTube video: Cell phone popcornQuestion of the hour: can you pop popcorn with cell phones? A YouTube video closing in on one million views this week purports to show a group of people doing just that. In the video, three phones are aimed at a few kernels of popcorn arranged in the middle of a table; the cell phone numbers are dialed; the phones ring; the corn pops instantly. There is no detectable trickery.

Trickery there must be, however, because, as a simple matter of logic, if your cell phone emits enough electromagnetic energy to pop popcorn, it should also make your head explode. When was the last time that happened to you?

The Museum of Hoaxes' Alex Boese figures there must be a heating element hidden under the table. A physics professor consulted by Wired.com concurs, suggesting there may have been some sneaky editing involved as well.

Some folks think the video — which is actually just one of several posted in different languages at roughly the same time — may be part of a viral marketing campaign for some as yet unknown company. Alex Boese points out that the premise is reminiscent of a widely circulated satirical piece many mistook for fact a few years ago claiming it's possible to cook an egg with a cell phone (the yolk was on them).

Update #1: It turns out the video was indeed part of a viral marketing campaign for Cardo Systems, makers of Bluetooth headsets.

Update #2: Cardo Systems CEO Abraham Glezerman reveals how the cell phone popcorn trick was done.

See also: How to Cook an Egg with Your Cell Phone

Read more about it:
Mobile Phone Cooks Popcorn! - YouTube video
Cell Phones Cook Popcorn - Museum of Hoaxes
Physicist Debunks Cellphone Popcorn Viral Videos - Wired.com
Cell Phone Popcorn Trick Revealed - Urban Legends
How to Cook an Egg with Your Cell Phone - Netlore Archive

Keep up with Urban Legends on Facebook!


June 10, 2008 at 2:17 pm
(1) Marshall Dudley says:

Of course there is insufficient energy to heat the kernels enough to make them pop. I see no evidence that the kernels are being heated at all. The normal electromagnetic wave travels off the sides of the antenna, not the top. What comes off the top would be a scalar wave, which is reported when interacting with other scalar waves in the microwave region to cause disassociation of water into H2 and O2. The amount of energy required for this is trivial compared with what is needed to heat a kernel, thus discussion of energy and heat is really irrelevnt to the possible physics involved.

That said, I have tried it, but could not get it to work with 3 Verizon phones.


June 10, 2008 at 5:37 pm
(2) Josey2006 says:

Looks like fun!

June 10, 2008 at 6:41 pm
(3) lorenzo woodley says:

its obviously been proven that this can happen but here is another question is this dangerous that we all have cellphones that can potentially
give us harmful doses of radiation

October 13, 2011 at 7:44 pm
(4) Jeri says:

You’re kidding right? That is definatley not true. I don’t know where you’re getting your info from, but it isn’t true at all. Trust me, I have spent way too many hours researching for my science project, as well as spent many minutes attempting.

June 11, 2008 at 12:34 am
(5) Greg says:

In the videos it takes about 10 seconds to pop what looks like about 7 kernels. OK! So try that in a microwave oven. 10 seconds no joy! 20, 30, 60 still no pop! So is it possible for a cell phone to have more power than a microwave oven? Or conversely, is it possible for a microwave oven to less powerful than a cell phone? Then why can cell phones run on batteries and microwave ovens have to pull into the wall?

Truth is that cell phones use and emit less than one thousandth the power that of a microwave oven. So for a cell phone to cook pop corn in less than 1 tenth the time is more than 5 orders of magnitude out of the realm of possibility. This would be roughly similar to trying to pass off a basketball as a golf ball. Well with a camera that I guess is easy. Sure would like to see the club after you tee off!

November 30, 2011 at 12:36 pm
(6) kim says:

But there is more than one phone so its more radiation.

June 11, 2008 at 5:48 am
(7) sawi says:

this table is covered with cloth, and in japan they have a heater under them (usually). also, an infra red beam could be directed at the kernels from above

June 11, 2008 at 6:48 am
(8) John says:

This has been proven?? Hahahahahaha! Certainly you can’t mean that YouTube video; those are never fakes! Anyway, I am very surprised that this has received the attention it has. It is simply not possible, and not really that amusing that people would fall for it! I would go with the heater under the table hypothesis.

June 11, 2008 at 11:40 am
(9) Paula says:

I am so glad there are such smart people out there to debunk this. I will get a bunch of emails warning me about the dangers of cell phone use, from people who will believe what they are told. I can point here to debunk it and save some innocent but gullible people some stress!

June 11, 2008 at 2:46 pm
(10) Nick says:

This is far from a controlled environment for a scientific test, the most notable issue being a table covered with a tablecloth, which could conceal a heater or otherwise-gimmicked surface. Secondly, if you actually look at the inside of a microwave oven, you will find an aperture covered by opaque plastic, which is a waveguide – without that, microwaves cannot travel from their source point in sufficient strength over short distances to be effective. And, finally, as has been pointed out, even a 1200W oven takes close to 30 seconds before kernels pop, and that’s when they’re tightly packed in a bag and covered with semi-gelled butter flavoring.

This is nothing more than a clever magic trick. Scientific control would require an uncovered table, phones supplied by the researcher (not the claimant), and instrumentation to measure microwave radiation.

Lastly … cell phones emit radio-frequency, not microwave band.

March 15, 2011 at 7:55 am
(11) Marisa says:

I agree with you up until your last sentence. My own high-school science teacher told my entire class (plus, it was written in our textbooks) that cell phones now emit micro-waves. My class was told to look this up as we are going to do a lab to test it, but I was very dissappointed to find out that this is false. I was excited to get some popcorn and have a fun class for once!

June 11, 2008 at 3:56 pm
(12) Gary says:

First I was amazed at the alien looking into the window, now it’s the cellphone that pops popcorn. What’s next?

June 12, 2008 at 12:19 am
(13) Dox says:

If this was true, there would be no 1-year or longer contracts. Nobody would live long enough to fulfill them. Nice hoax, but a hoax, indeed.

June 12, 2008 at 7:20 am
(14) miblaker says:

YES It’s Fake !
I found out who made these 4 little movies showing popcorn and cell phones. It’s CardoWireless ! Check their vids on youtube : http://www.youtube.com/user/CardoWireless

June 12, 2008 at 1:18 pm
(15) KC says:

It’s human nature to accept claims like these as facts. They add intrigue to our lives, and fuel the conspiracy that the truth is being hidden from us.

June 13, 2008 at 9:13 am
(16) Froggy says:

If this was in fact true these cell phones would cook our brains. This would result in obvious, immediate consequences. We would have people driving on the road talking on their cell phone and as their brains cooked they would do dumb things and cause accidents. People would be walking around shouting into their cell phone having a private conversation. I am sure many other things would be noticeable.

Does George W. use a cell phone a lot? That would really explain some things.

June 13, 2008 at 9:57 am
(17) ParisH says:

The other day, like, I was talking to my BFF on the cellie and guess what? The chocolate bar in my pocket melted and, like, it wasn’t even hot outside! That’s haught!

January 27, 2011 at 6:23 am
(18) Seriously? says:

Maybe body temperature had something to do with it?

June 15, 2008 at 9:50 pm
(19) Dave says:

The comments about the minimal power, the antenna power from the side and time to pop the kernel are good, but the real caveat here is the fact that the kernels pop without ever answering the calls.

When a cell phone is waiting for a call, it sends and receives short messages to and from the towers so it can be found when someone calls. The energy from these message are quite small. Even when the phone rings, no continuous carrier wave is established until sometime after the call is answered. Then would be the most likely time to pop popcorn (if the power was large enough – which it isn’t).

So as everyone with half a cell-fried brain should know – this is impossible!

June 15, 2008 at 10:05 pm
(20) Dave says:

This hoax may be something that should be investigated by the authorities. The only way to pop those kernels on the table is to use a heating element or a microwave source.

A heating element would have melted the table or caught the tablecloth on fire before the kernels had popped. The only other explanation is the use of a high powered microwave transmitter under the table, which would have exposed the participants to dangerous levels of radiation. The location of this device would put it close to their genitals and could have a devastating effect on the people shown and their offspring.

This behavior will cause other people to do stupid things just to become famous. Despite the novelty of the idea, this is too dangerous to be funny. I see big lawsuits coming from this.

June 17, 2008 at 12:39 pm
(21) acikul says:

Yes Dave! And somebody should sue Hollywood for showing Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling, right? People could get hurt trying to do the same….geeez.

June 18, 2008 at 12:11 am
(22) Still Not Good says:

Yes, the videos are fake, BUT,

66 studies have found an increased risk of brain cancer among cell phone users….


June 18, 2008 at 2:36 am
(23) Daniel says:

Yes, I have taken a physics class that has discussed cell phones in one of the labs. A cell phone does use far less power, but none the less, cell phones do use microwaves as a way to transmit data.
I agree and have heard of the studies that show tumors in areas of the brain, legs & genitals (where people keep their phones) as well as an activation of genes that progress cancers and other diseases within the body.

June 18, 2008 at 6:31 am
(24) Chris says:

“Does George W. use a cell phone a lot? That would really explain some things.”

I’m sure he does-BTW, Al Gore invented the cellphone.

June 18, 2008 at 8:15 am
(25) Vic says:

Dearest David,
When was the last time 3 cell phones were pointed at your or anyone elses head (triangulated) and dialed. That was a brash and meaningless statement.

June 18, 2008 at 12:17 pm
(26) Casey says:

Wow way to over analyse this. All you have to do is get some Adobe software, such as Photoshop, Premier, and After Effect.

Take a a picture of a peice of pop corn, and use Photoshop to cut that peice out of the picture. Transform it into a .PNG file for a high quality peice of popcorn with transparency.

Now Bring it into your Premier or After Effects software, apply motion blur to the peice of pop corn and motion tween it so it looks like it pops and moves off camera. Then cover up the table with one of the tools within the program to make it look like the seed isnt there anymore.

As you can see in the video, the pop corn leaves the screen with each pop. Giving the camera man time to throw a peice of pop corn onto the table so that it looks like he can pick it up..

Its not Science, its Art

Also how did she call 3 phones at once with one cell phone?

May 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm
(27) john says:

lol uh how would you dial 3 cell phones with 3 cell phones?…. you’d need 4. i dotn believe this you were doin so good until you said that

June 18, 2008 at 12:32 pm
(28) Casey says:

Plus did anyone notice every peice of pop corn flew away from the camera. Kind of like the camera man was throwing it.

June 18, 2008 at 4:00 pm
(29) John Cooper says:

Popcorn no, but it can cook an egg in the shell, one cell on iether side, that is true, do a story on that ? also for the many who stick thier heads in the sand every time stories like this appear, try doing a search on cell phone health danges what does the UK, France, Germany and the latest Japan have in common ? all came out with warnings on kids using cell phones ! better pay attention !

June 18, 2008 at 7:08 pm
(30) Scott Miller says:

Could do this with some lasers just out of camera range. There are several affordable units out now that are small, portable, and produce enough heat to light a match from afar. BTW, the egg thing never happened. Not saying cell phones are safe, but they can’t cook food, boil water, or prevent frostbite. Bluetooth however, can erase short term memory. Film at eleven.

June 19, 2008 at 12:29 am
(31) The Toxic Reverend says:

Brain expert warns of huge rise in tumours and calls on industry to take
immediate steps to reduce radiation

By Geoffrey Lean, The Independent news
Sunday, 30 March 2008


Mobile phones could kill far more people than smoking or asbestos, a study by an
award-winning cancer expert has concluded. He says people should avoid using
them wherever possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must
take “immediate steps” to reduce exposure to their radiation.

June 19, 2008 at 2:13 pm
(32) Michael says:

Oh my GOD!

People actually thought this was possible?

June 20, 2008 at 5:36 pm
(33) Hans Katan says:

I know a story that is more than 2000 years old and is as unbelievable as this hoax ,but is told over and over again .Nothing has changed since early Man .And the internet is full of stupidity it is a reflection of human kind .And the most stupid thing is that this hoax was made by a company that sells blue tooth earphones .Advertising the new religion?

June 30, 2008 at 10:02 pm
(34) Mark says:

I think they worked out how long it takes to pop in a microwave oven then took it out say 30 secs before. That gave them time to set up the trick. The video starts right as the guy puts them on the table.
Food keeps cooking for a while once you take it out of the oven.

July 2, 2008 at 10:47 am
(35) Rick says:

Okay, I have a question. How come all of these people have multiple cell phones? I mean, if there are 4 people in that room, why are there 8 cell phones?

just curious.

July 2, 2008 at 1:16 pm
(36) Bob says:

My thought is that there could have been something coating the popcorn in the process of a catalytic reaction that generates the heat to make the kernels pop. I don’t really know if there is something, that in such a small quantity, could produce enough heat to carry it off . . . maybe in combination with the under the table heat source.

July 2, 2008 at 1:26 pm
(37) Bob says:

I just had another thought. This is a promotion for genetically modified popcorn that pops at body temperature, so a person can have some in their pocket (less bulk), reach in, grab some, hold it tight in the hand, and viola, you have a handy snack to carry with you.

July 2, 2008 at 1:42 pm
(38) Zach says:

Obviously there is a microwave source under the table. Wouldn’t be too terribly harmful to the people near the table due to inverse square law.

July 6, 2008 at 7:59 pm
(39) jen smith says:

John McCain, On the other hand, was not born on US soil and therefore is not a natural citizen. Hmmmm

July 9, 2008 at 11:39 am
(40) Johnny says:


This is obviously the same technology that Star Trek used in their phaser guns.

July 9, 2008 at 6:02 pm
(41) Zippertuck says:

Have any of you idiots actaully read the article you are commenting on? This is fake! It was a viral ad for bluetooth technology. This isn’t possible in any stretch of the imagination. Man people are stupid!

July 11, 2008 at 10:23 am
(42) Anna Anna says:

#4, Greg said, ” 10 seconds no joy! 20, 30, 60 still no pop!”

Maybe it was female popcorn?

July 16, 2008 at 7:27 am
(43) Mindy says:

The popcorn was previously popped and they digitally removed the unpopped popcorn to make it look like it is popping.. Only in the name of ADVERTISING.. Not science.. We are all gullable, even I was tempted to try it.. But then to find out it was a gimmic to advertise Bluetooth technology..

July 24, 2008 at 10:12 am
(44) madsg says:

If you want harmful rays that can fry your head and give you cancer, stand out in the midday sun for a little while.
Hey, that would explain these speaker phone people with their arms outstretched yelling at their cell phones. Sunstroke!

July 31, 2008 at 10:05 am
(45) Shane says:

In the interview with the head of the company that created this viral advertising campaign the guy says they never meant for this to scare people. They meant for this to be a funny ad. I say BS! I can see a couple of kids doing this as a prank but our companies and businesses need to show responsibility in their advertising. I think this company should get slapped with a hefty fine that gets donated to cell phone health research. I cant believe the cell phone industry is very happy with them either!

August 6, 2008 at 7:25 pm
(46) Paul says:

Yeah, its fake… but for some reason people can’t turn themselves away.

There are lots of funny spoofs out there too…

This one uses Yoga…

August 11, 2008 at 10:12 am
(47) Shamil says:

Hide a Magnetron from a microwave (caution, dangerous) under the table, re-connect it to the microwave, set the timer, place the corn and some various cell phones around and wait.

August 11, 2008 at 3:11 pm
(48) mark Hanly says:

try it! and then write another post. mark panama.

October 1, 2008 at 12:50 pm
(49) Your Mom says:

It does too work. I just did it.

October 15, 2008 at 12:06 pm
(50) Some Moron who lives with Momie says:


October 28, 2008 at 6:15 pm
(51) yuval says:

funny one

November 3, 2008 at 6:16 am
(52) igal orbach says:

just a funny takeoff on the popcorn videos

January 8, 2009 at 10:35 am
(53) Don says:

I did not read ever comment so i might be repeating.

But a microwave works because of one fact – the frequency of a microwave just happens to be just right to vibrate an H2O molecule. This vibration causes the molecule to heat up.

A cell phone is not transmitting at microwave frequencies. So even if the power could be amplified 100,000 times it still would not be at a frequency that would vibrate a water molecule. So there is no way this video is real.

February 21, 2009 at 5:24 pm
(54) Jess says:

I don’t believe that cellphones can pop popcorn like that, but I am still concerned about what they can do to people:

February 24, 2009 at 11:04 am
(55) Emma says:

I am doing a science fair project on this topic and this site has really halped me. I am 12 years old ans thanks for hte imput. I will let you know if it works.

March 6, 2009 at 11:38 am
(56) Tom says:

While on the phone the thought occured to me that lsdfgutg7 lufgya vbv,jru and ldfkjvkrugsl.

April 8, 2009 at 6:32 pm
(57) CSea Perkins says:

According to SNOPES this is a hoax. However, the point to drive home is the serious danger of invisible frequencies from electronics, appliances, wireless and WiMax technology requires yet another technology to protect living matter from their harms.

While researching the environmental sickness and electromagnetic radiation EMR, I found http://EMF-Journal.com to be verifiable proof in many countries. 8 countries have already banned cell phone use by children. Some prosecute. In India a woman is fined for using a laptop if pregnant because of infant brain tumor and autism increase.

Get serious people, NO cell phones cannot pop popcorn but they are slowly killing us. CHILDREN faster, the frequencies penetrate further into their brain because the skull is soft and still developing.

Do you or your children’s school use wireless technology? We give them technology without protection and expect them to learn more?

Let’s get real. Us less intelligent adults can and should understand EMF (electromagnetic frequencies) and take responsibility for protecting ourselves or risk the consequences.

August 25, 2009 at 1:18 pm
(58) Jonathan says:

It takes 356°F and 135 PSI to make corn pop. Cell phones would have never made it off the shelf with that kind of power. Not to mention they would have a battery the size of a car battery.

October 15, 2009 at 5:18 pm
(59) Michael says:

I did have to try it and it does not work.

October 17, 2009 at 5:54 pm
(60) ethan says:


March 18, 2010 at 2:14 pm
(61) Roger Carmichael, BSME says:

Cellphones operate in RF band of [824/894MHz]
This equates to a wave length of 14″ which req’s a 7″
wire length for “T” of an FM antenna to absorb signal.
So it is possible to have a line of popcorn kernals of
precisely 7″ length tuned in to cell phone frequencies,
but not enough energy to boil moisture w/in a kernal.

Truth is we will see more “propaganda” to discourage
cell phone use inside of vehicles, esp. ones that have
CRUISE CONTROL because of RFI issues wherin the
wire length of a turn signal wiring harness can pick up
cell phone signals to hook a cruise control CPU into
cell phone tower system. At 850MHz, the onslaught
of signal overwhelms any brake signal. Toyota and
our gov’t have a HUGE problem on their hands and
US gov’t does not need another car company bail-out
Point is- these days you have to read between lines
“America” is a LIE and you better get used to it.

March 18, 2010 at 8:22 pm
(62) Val says:


Now that’s gullible people!

March 26, 2010 at 2:17 pm
(63) Der Der Der says:

Just another app to add to your cellphone… portable popcorn popper… Gimme a break… hey look! There’s a UFO!, Look again!, Bigfoot’s flying it!

March 26, 2010 at 2:25 pm
(64) Captain Obvious says:

This hoax is tired… let’s move on to the next one already…

April 4, 2010 at 4:45 pm
(65) Tesla says:

Hey sheep. Cell phones ARE microwaves! When you combine 2 or 4 phones, you cancel the waves and create SCALAR waves which are energy inducting waves. They waves can be extremely dangerous and are being built at a larger scale for super weapons and to control the weather. Wake up. Cell will never be safe.

April 4, 2010 at 10:34 pm
(66) tina says:


May 5, 2010 at 11:36 pm
(67) Nick says:

Check out this one! These guys proved it can work:

January 14, 2011 at 9:59 am
(68) CHRIS RIMMER ! says:


January 14, 2011 at 10:00 am
(69) Isaac Peters says:


January 21, 2011 at 1:14 am
(70) YMG says:

yes hoax most likely, but you dont need to be a that smart to do your own test. how do you feel when you get off your mobile after talking on it for a few minutes. “hot or fuzzy in the head, the phone even gets hot because of the energy/signal, so of coarse anything near that will also be affected. people can live in denial and say its ok to use a mobile because the moblie phone companys say “its safe”. lets be smart here, use your mobile only when really necessary, and keep it short and sweet. that go’s for any wire less devises. we all know how we feel after being on the computer/internet, the proof is in the pudding. say safe, use reasonsible.

January 21, 2011 at 10:58 am
(71) courtney mcrorie says:

i raaaahhaaaayyy to your raa for chris’s raaahggonnnnyy

January 21, 2011 at 11:19 am
(72) shyla gallant says:

i am a l00sr.

July 28, 2011 at 6:28 am
(73) Sharon says:

Personally, I wonder if the table is heated in some way? There must be some form of trickery behind this because if this were true there would have been a surge of news coverage on this do you reckon. I mean look at the amount of business mobiles generate, not just from those that make and sell them but all the companies generated off the back of their demand. Like sms for business purposes, mobile apps, the lot. If this video is true then weaning people off mobiles is going to be like weaning people off cigarettes!

January 5, 2012 at 3:42 pm
(74) Bill says:

It looks as if there’s a significant number of gullible folks commenting here as well as a number of intelligent ones. Get real folks it can’t be done. They even tried it on Mythbusters and proved it to be a hoax. As it was said earlier here, a cell phone emits far less radiation than a microwave oven yet think how long it takes the oven to pop the kernals.

April 8, 2012 at 7:19 am
(75) cell phone numbers go public says:

Informative article, totally what I needed.

December 7, 2012 at 2:36 pm
(76) lluvia lopez says:

it is defiantly not true, my chemistry class tried it in high and no results.

February 16, 2013 at 12:43 pm
(77) DM says:

There is a white cellphone that looks the same in all scenes!…

June 12, 2013 at 3:43 am
(78) Brandy says:

Ask yourself, how is it that the majority of things on
the IARC 2B list, including engine exhausts, DDT, Kepone (also known as chlordecone, is a carcinogenic insecticide), PCBs and other industrial agents, receive serious regulatory attention.

More than 200 docs and analysts had been mixed up
in WTR undertaking. The little, and inconclusive, research undertaken so far has nonetheless hinted that excessive exposure
to electromagnetic fields (EMF) could cause such undesirable effects as memory
loss, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, and even brain

January 9, 2014 at 7:00 pm
(79) Adam Thacker says:

Ok so I work on cellphone towers. This was part of our rf awareness that we are required to take. Lets see if I remember anythig A microwave ovens wave length is about the size of a baseball. And for a cell phone it about the size of an average man What does that mean. Something the size of a baseball would be affected by a microwave because most or all of the wave hits the base ball. Where as a cell phone has a larger wave lenght and a popcorn kernel is very small only a very small fraction of the wave hits the kernell there for not affected. Its bullshit

January 12, 2014 at 9:24 am
(80) Sharon says:

Replicated the popping with two iPhones and two Galaxy Samsungs – maybe it depends on the combo of phones – not a hoax this works (slower than on video clips)

January 13, 2014 at 3:40 am
(81) karina says:
February 5, 2014 at 4:31 pm
(82) Jim Wirth says:


The phones will NOT pop the POP CORN. The trick is a MICROWAVE OVEN MAGNATRON TUBE is mounted under the table pointed up, and there is a switch operated by one of the tricksters. THIS IS VERY VERY DANGEROUS… THIS IS A TRICK…


March 17, 2014 at 1:32 am
(83) Sam says:

I can’t believe people believe that. Then again these are probably the same people who buy that little black chip that goes on the back of your phone to protect you from “harmful radiation.”

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