About National Popcorn Day
Today is National Popcorn Day. An easy way to participate is to snap a photo of you with some popcorn and share it over social media using #NationalPopcornDay.
And you won't be alone, Americans consume some 15 billion quarts of this whole grain, good-for-you treat a year. That’s 47 quarts per man, woman, and child.
Popcorn is a type of maize (or corn), a member of the grass family, and is scientifically known as Zea mays everta.
Popcorn differs from other types of maize/corn in that it has a thicker pericarp/hull. The hull allows pressure from the heated water to build and eventually bursts open. The inside starch becomes gelatinous while being heated; when the hull bursts, the gelatinized starch spills out and cools, giving it its familiar popcorn shape.
Surprising facts about popcorn
Archaeologists have discovered that people have known about popcorn for thousands of years. In Mexico, remnants of popcorn have been found that date back to circa 3600 BC, and fossil evidence from Peru suggests that corn may have been popped as early as 4700 BC.
It is also likely that popcorn was part of the first Thanksgiving meal.
Nebraska produces the most popcorn
The state is known as the Cornhusker State for a reason. While it’s third in overall corn production, it is the top popcorn producer in the United States.
It’s actually surprisingly healthy
That is, of course, when you don’t have all that butter and salt piled on the snack. The healthiest way to have popcorn is to air dry it and lightly season it. Not only is the snack high in fiber, but it also contains phenolic acids, a type of antioxidant. Since popcorn is a whole grain it can reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension in humans.
Popcorn became popular in 1890
Popcorn became a popular snack in the late 19th century after the invention of the first large-scale commercial popcorn machine by Charles Cretors. By 1900, he had horse-drawn popcorn wagons throughout the streets of Chicago. It wouldn’t be until 1981 when food processing company General Mills issued the first patent for a microwave popcorn bag, which increased popcorn consumption by tens of thousands of pounds in the following years.
Popcorn into theaters dates back to 1938
In 1938, Midwestern theater owner Glen W. Dickson first installed popcorn machines in his movie theater lobbies. Despite the cost of popcorn machines, Dickson quickly recouped his losses and soon, other theaters followed suit.
Sources: WebMD, History.com, and PBS