January 19th is National Popcorn Day. Whether you pop it on the stove, in the microwave, or with a fancy popping machine, make sure you take time to celebrate this super snack that is both fun to eat and a healthy snacking option. Here are your fun facts about one of America’s favorite treats.
- In ancient times, corn wasn’t always corn. The term corn was used to describe the most common grain used in a specific place. Because the grain most commonly used varied from country to country and region to region, corn in Egypt and corn in France were not likely the same grain. What we call corn today is actually maize which is believed to be native to Mexico.
- The oldest ears of popcorn ever found came from Mexico and are over 4000 years old.
- Americans average an annual consumption of 68 quarts of popcorn each which means we eat more than 17 billion quarts of popcorn all by ourselves.
- Americans have been popping corn since long before the first European explorers arrived which makes popcorn one of our most popular Native American traditions.
- Before stoves and microwaves, hot sand was used to provide the right kind of heat to make corn kernels pop.
- Just like today, popcorn has always served more than one purpose including as a food source and for decorative or ceremonial purposes.
- Popcorn joined the mobile generation in 1893 when an inventor named Charles Cretors introduced the first moveable popcorn machine at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
- Because it remained a relatively lost cost item, popcorn maintained its popularity through the Great Depression.
- Sugar shortages during WWII made candy hard to come by, catapulting popcorn consumption to three times its pre-war levels.
- Popcorn hit a career slump when televisions started making their way into American homes impacting the sale of movie tickets and the sale of popcorn which was primarily consumed at the movies.
- Thankfully, our longing for popcorn was so strong that the need for an easy way to produce it at home helped support the development of the first microwave ovens.
- Popcorn is made up of both yellow and white kernels but only about 1 in 10 kernels are white.
- A single kernel pops with such force that it can be propelled up to 3 feet in the air.
- The unpopped kernels at the bottom of our bowl are called “old maids”.
- If you laid popcorn kernels end to end from coast to coast beginning in New York City and ending in Los Angeles, it would take more than 350 million popped kernels to span the distance.
- Popcorn is actually a whole grain that provides 31 calories per cup.
- In order to get a full serving of whole grains, you need to eat three full cups.
- Popcorn is also high in fiber, very low in fat, and contains no salt or sugar.
- Why Popcorn is Popping Up All Over (fillyourplate.org)
- National Popcorn Day Pops on the Calendar (fillyourplate.org)
- 8 Great Ways to Celebrate National Tortilla Chip Day (fillyourplate.org)
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