On January 19, we celebrate what I consider one of the four major food groups (with chocolate being another one). Popcorn has been around for a long time. Historians believe that corn whose kernels could be popped was first cultivated around 5000 B.C.E in Mexico. Archeologists have found evidence of an early popcorn maker – a utensil with holes and a handle – dating back to 400 C.E. in Peru. The wild, great-granddaddy of modern corn was a grain called teosinte. It has just a few kernels on each stalk, and they’re too hard to eat or to grind into flour. But teosinte has a special property that almost makes up for these shortcomings: It can pop. Indeed, it is the very hard, inedible corn that can become popcorn. The hard outer shell acts like a pressure cooker until it suddenly explodes.
The word “corn” in Old English meant “grain” or more specifically the most prominent grain grown in a region. As maize was the most common grain in early America, the word “corn” was aptly applied. Popcorn started becoming popular in the United States in the middle 1800s. It wasn’t until Charles Cretors, a candy-store owner, developed a machine for popping corn with steam that the tasty treat became more abundantly poppable. By 1900 he had horse-drawn popcorn wagons going through the streets of Chicago. Cracker Jack was invented at about the same time by adding peanuts and molasses to popcorn. With the invention of the microwave, popcorn became even more popular. According to The Popcorn Board, Americans consume 13 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually. Most popcorn is grown in the United States. Nebraska leads the Corn Belt in popcorn production.
Some fun facts about popcorn. A cup of air-popped corn has 31 calories, while if you make it with oil, it is 55 calories per cup. In 2012, 995,774,706 pounds of unpopped corn was sold.
So make yourself some popcorn today and perhaps pop in a movie.
Quotes about popcorn
Every once in a while, someone will mail me a single popcorn kernel that didn’t pop. I’ll get out a fresh kernel, tape it to a piece of paper and mail it back to them.–Orville Redenbacher
I had popcorn all over the place, so I decided I might as well be in the Processing Business.–Orville Redenbacher
Popcorn! Our fatal weakness!–Hazel Levesque
Have you ever pondered the miracle of popcorn? It starts out as a tiny, little, compact kernel with magic trapped inside that when agitated, bursts to create something marvelously desirable. It’s sort of like those tiny, little thoughts trapped inside an author’s head that – in an excited explosion of words – suddenly become a captivating fairytale!–Richelle E. Goodrich
Sometimes I think that all anyone needs in life is lots of popcorn…–Sam Savage
“Come in early, so there’ll be time to pop corn,” Mrs. Ray said. If she mentioned popping corn, they always came in early. So she usually mentioned it.–Maud Hart Lovelace
Fresh popcorn is near impossible to resist, second only to fresh doughnuts.–Shannon Wiersbitzky
The laziest man I ever met put popcorn in his pancakes so they would turn over by themselves.–W. C. Fields
American’s love popcorn, and their love doesn’t quit.–Rosecrans Baldwin
The modern era has brought up immense conveniences, but at what price. The human heart is desperate for something more than a quicker serving of popcorn.–John Eldredge
Of course life is bizarre, the more bizarre it gets, the more interesting it is. The only way to approach it is to make yourself some popcorn and enjoy the show.–David Gerrold
I just got a reputation for making popcorn at parties. I don’t mean to brag on myself, but I make the popcorn in the pot, and it comes out fine every time.–Bill Nye
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