National Popcorn Day!
“Hey want some popcorn?” “No thanks I am not hungry.” 30 seconds later when you smell that popcorn popping in the microwave your stomach says you must have some. Two minutes later you are eating some wonderful salted buttery popcorn. Has this happened to you? It is a typical occurrence in our household and I am betting in many of yours. I am also betting that there are things you may not know about popcorn…so here is some popcorn trivia to help you celebrate this most awesome day.
Native Americans first discovered popcorn thousands of years ago. Quadequina of the Wampanoag tribe brought popcorn to the first Thanksgiving for colonists in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The big commercial popcorn machines were invented by Charles Cretors in 1885 in Chicago, Illinois. He introduced his invention at the Columbian Exposition in 1893. As this same exhibition another gentleman by the name of F.W. Rueckheim introduced the first carmel corn. An altered version of this recipe would be introduced in 1896 by Louis Rueckheim, his brother, as Cracker Jack
Kernels that do not pop at the correct temperature are known in the popcorn industry as “old maids”. A popped kernel is known a “flake”. The flakes come in two shapes. They are either ball-shaped cauliflower looking balls with few wings called mushrooms, or they are butterfly flakes where they have protruding wings or offshoots. The butterfly flakes have a better mouth feel, but because the mushroom flakes are sturdier, they are the ones manufacturers tend to use in packaged popcorn. One cob can produce both kinds of kernels, but they have also developed corn varieties that produce 100% of one variety
The “Popcorn Capital of the World” is claimed by at least six mid-western states in the United States, but the majority of popcorn is grown in Nebraska and Indiana. Texas production is on the rise.
With sugar rations implemented during WWII, Americans tripled their consumption of popcorn.
Before about 1912, less than 19,000 acres (7,700 hectares) of farmland were dedicated to growing popcorn, but the electric popcorn machine and the microwave increased the demand for “prairie gold.” Today, annual consumption of popcorn in America exceeds 1 billion pounds.
Of all the popcorn grown in the United States, 10% is used for seed and sold outside the United States; 30% is sold at ball games, movies, fairs, and circuses; and 60% is consumed in the home.
In 1945, Percy Spencer applied microwave energy to popcorn and found that it popped; his discovery led to experiments with other foods and development of the microwave oven.