Pop goes the kernel: a brief history on popcorn

Love popcorn? Do you actually know the history on popcorn and where its origins are situated? No wonder this snack has been around for centuries!

Movie night?

With popcorn surely!

Whenever my 10-year old niece comes over for movie night, popcorn is the most important movie snack for her.

It is a popular snack all around the world, but how did this crunchy treat become one of the most popular snacks in the world anyway?

Do you actually know where it comes from, where it was originally prepared first?

Those questions prompted me to take a closer look at the history on popcorn and write a little article post on our blog about it.

A brief history on popcorn

We need to go way back for this one.

Popcorn has been around for thousands of years, with evidence of popcorn being found in Peru that dates back to 5600BC.

Corn was first domesticated by indigenous populations in what is now Mexico, a whopping 8700 years ago.

The Americas

It is believed that the Native Americans were the first to eat popcorn, using it as an important part of their diet and culture. They would use a variety of tools to pop the kernels, including clay pots heated over an open fire.

Popcorn was already a popular snack for Native Americans back then, who also used it in ceremonies and religious rituals. They even used popcorn to decorate garments and headdresses for ceremonies and as a food offering to the gods.

Popcorn was likely not invented by accident, although it is possible that the ancient people of Peru discovered the popping process accidentally.

The popularity of popcorn spread from the Native Americans to the Europeans, who first encountered popcorn during the colonization of the Americas in the 1500s.

Charles Cretors

Popcorn soon became popular in what we now know as the United States.

The first popcorn machine was invented in 1885 by a man named Charles Cretors, a Chicago-based entrepreneur. His machine was a steam-powered popcorn popper, which could pop up to three quarts of popcorn per minute.

No need to mention that the very first popcorn machine was an immediate success.s

People were amazed at the speed and convenience of the machine, as well as its ability to produce large quantities of popcorn in such a short amount of time.

The invention of the first popcorn machine in 1885 also changed the way we enjoy popcorn. Charles Cretors developed the machine to make popcorn more accessible to the public. His brand new machine was a combination of a stove, a wheel and a kettle, which was heated to popping temperature.

Mass production

The invention of the first popcorn machine was a major technological advancement in the food industry. Not only did it make popcorn more widely available, it also allowed for the production of popcorn in large quantities, enough for the entire population.

This also meant that popcorn could be sold everywhere and in a variety of settings, which soon made it one of the top selling snack in amusement parks and movie theatres.

The popularity of the first popcorn machine led to the development of more technologically advanced machines, like those that could produce flavored popcorn.

The invention of the first popcorn machine by Charles Cretors also had an impact on the economic structure of the food industry.

Because popcorn became one of the most popular snacks in no time, it made it easier for entrepreneurs to enter the food industry. This allowed more people to participate in the food industry, creating a more competitive market.

Nowadays popular popcorn brands include Orville Redenbacher’s, Pop Secret, Jolly Time, Act II and Angie’s Boomchickapop.

Love popcorn? Do you actually know the history on popcorn and where its origins are situated? No wonder this snack has been around for centuries!

Flint corn

The US is the world’s leading producer of corn for popcorn, producing over 40 percent of the global total.

Not all types of corn can be used to make popcorn.

It is usually made from a type of corn called flint corn, also known as Indian corn. Not only popcorn is made from it: flint corn is also used for polenta, grits and Mexican atole.

Fresh corn is dried for popcorn through a process called curing. During curing, the corn is placed in a warm, humid environment for several days to reduce its moisture content and make it suitable for popping.

Is popcorn healthy?

Pure unflavored and unseasoned popcorn contains a healthy amount of fiber, protein, natural sugars, vitamins and minerals.

However some types of commercial popcorn that are available in supermarkets are high in calories, fat and sodium.

Popcorn can be a healthy snack if it is prepared without added fats, sugars or salt.

But then, you might ask yourself where’s the fun in that?

Sugar or salt?

What popcorn person are you?

Salt or sugar?

Both?

We prefer savory popcorn here, with a good amount of butter.

Salt popcorn is generally considered to be healthier than sweet popcorn, as it contains fewer calories.

All that history on popcorn has made us hungry…

What about our favorite recipe for buttery movie popcorn?

Enjoy!

RECIPE

Buttery Movie Popcorn

Ingredients for 3 people

  • ⅓ cup (40 g) popcorn kernels
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • salt to taste

Method

  1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the popcorn kernels and butter to the pot and stir to combine.
  3. Cover the pot with a lid and let the kernels begin to pop.
  4. Shake the pot every few seconds to keep the kernels from burning.
  5. Once the popping slows, remove the pot from the heat and pour the popcorn into a large bowl.
  6. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
  7. Enjoy!
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