Popcorn Trivia

bulletJanuary 19 is National Popcorn Day
bulletCorn was first grown about 7,000 years ago in the highlands of central Mexico, and by the first century B.C. was a staple crop of all the agricultural peoples in the Americas. One of the first uses of corn kernels was for popping.
bulletSome Native American tribes popped corn right on the cob, by spearing the corn cob with a stick and holding it near the fire. The kernels would pop and stay attached to the cob.
bulletPopcorn was actually the first food to be microwaved deliberately. In 1946 Dr. Percy Spencer of the Raytheon Corporation was experimenting with a magnetron (a new type of vacuum tube) when he noticed that the chocolate candy bar in his pocket had melted. He was curious, so he placed some popcorn kernels next to the magnetron and turned it on - the popcorn popped. After experimenting with various other food items (including an egg that exploded!), he and Ratheon realized they were on to something and continued on to develop the first microwave oven.

In an average bag of popcorn, the number of yellow kernels will outnumber the white ones by 9 to 1.


It is believed that popcorn was the very first form of corn to be cultivated.


The oldest ears of popcorn ever found were discovered in the Bat Cave of west central New Mexico in 1948 and 1950. Ranging from smaller than a penny to about 2 inches, the oldest Bat Cave ears are about 5,600 years old.


In southwestern Utah, a 1,000-year-old popped kernel of popcorn was found in a dry cave inhabited by predecessors of the Pueblo Indians. (There may be older ones than that under a cushion of my sofa.)


Americans today consume 17.3 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year. The average American eats about 68 quarts.


The ancient way to popcorn was to heat sand in a fire and stir kernels of popcorn in when the sand was fully heated.

Why Popcorn Pops!

Each kernel contains a small drop of water inside a circle of soft starch surrounded by the hard outer surface. As the kernel heats, the drop of water expands and pressure starts to build up. When the hard surface eventually gives way, the popcorn explodes. During the explosion, the soft starch inside the kernel inflates and bursts, turning the entire kernel inside out.

Varieties of popcorn are grown to pop into two distinctive shapes: "snowflake," the large popcorn sold in theaters and ball parks; and mushroom, the smaller variety used in popcorn candies and snacks.