Making Popcorn at the Mass General Picnic

Editor’s Note: This summer we have two communications interns working with us to write stories about research at the hospital and their experiences being part of the hospital community. This is a post by our intern Alyssa.

On one of the first days of my internship, I was given a sheet of paper outlining important dates scattered throughout the following few weeks. Arguably the most important event was the annual Employee Summer Picnic, where the Research Institute had a vital job to perform (or so I was continuously told).


Through means I’m unaware of, we had been designated years ago to pop popcorn at each Summer Picnic. We had developed a sort of cult following, as people were apparently requesting our presence at this year’s event.

So when the day came, we arrived at the Bulfinch Lawn early to set up shop. Our table was situated on the patio to the side of the stage, where members of the New England Patriots would appear as part of the My Giving Helps employee campaign.

Last year, the campaign raised over $1 million to help support clinical advancements at Mass General and local families in need. There was a pretty tremendous turnout, and I imagine that even those who couldn’t donate still came out to support the cause.

I surprisingly learned the ropes of popcorn-making pretty quickly. While at first I assumed this would be my first and only experience as a food vendor, I actually used my newfound skills the following weekend when my friend was unsure of the kernel-to-oil ratio when popping popcorn at her party.

Though there was concern at first about the quantity of popcorn we were supplied with, the rush didn’t last long. As soon as the Patriots players (please don’t ask me for their names) started playing a life-size version of Operation on stage, people abandoned food lines to catch a photo, or a 15-minute video.

Even as it started raining, people still held out their phones and tablets while we rushed to salvage our top-notch popcorn machines. Despite the definitive forecast, no one had arranged for our prized table to be covered from the downpours and our power strips were rendered useless.

So we stood under the awning and watched the stage, while people actually tried to coerce us into giving them the leftover kernels sitting at the bottom of the now soaked machines.

But if amateur popped popcorn is what brings attention to the hard work being done at the Research Institute, I don’t mind smelling a bit like burnt butter for the day.

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