Interesting Facts About Popcorn
America loves popcorn. We eat 16 billion quarts per year. Every man, woman and child enjoy 65 quarts of popcorn each. Popcorn is a whole grain snack with only 55 calories per cup. If you use an air popper it has 31 calories.
Zea Mays Everta is popcorn’s scientific name. Popcorn is a member of the grass family. It is a type of maize or corn. There are 5 types of corn. They are Flour, Dent or Field, Flint, Sweet and popcorn. The moisture in the kernels makes it pop. That level of moisture is between 13 to 15%.
Popcorn comes in two different types. One type is Mushroom and the other is Snowflake. Most concession poppers use the Snowflake. The Snowflake pops out fluffier and looks better. Most candy makers use the Mushroom variety. This type holds the candy coating better. Popcorn comes in 700 varieties.
Kettle corn was first introduced in the early 1700’s. The Settlers would pop the popcorn in large cast iron kettles. They would use rendered lard and whatever sweetener they had on hand. Many times it was molasses, honey or sugar cane.
The kettle corn that you see popped at fairs and farmers markets is one of the hottest ways to make money with popcorn. It has a very high profit margin and a very low overhead. You can usually recoup your initial investment in a few shows. Microwave popcorn was first discovered in 1945. Perry Spencer discovered that popcorn would pop when placed near a microwave. Mr. Spencer led the way to development of the microwave oven. Some of the oldest known popcorn was found in Bat cave in west New Mexico in 1948. The ears of popcorn were as small as a penny to over 2 inches long. Popcorn became very popular during the great depression in the 1890’s. Popcorn was sold in bags for 5 to 10 cents each. Some street vendors would push their gas and steam powered poppers around following the crowds selling popcorn. Very few people could afford this luxury. People would start their own popcorn business to help their families during the lean years.
Popcorn sales dropped off when the T.V. became popular in the 1950’s. Movie theater attendance dropped off too. The consumption of popcorn dropped too when the public started making popcorn at home. Home poppers were introduced in 1925.
January 19 is National Popcorn Day! October is National Popcorn Popping Month! Native Americans would pop their popcorn right on the cob. They would insert a spear through the cob and roast it over an open fire. The kernels would pop and stick right on the cob.
The English colonists ate popcorn at the first Thanksgiving feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was brought as a gift by the chief’s brother. The colonists ate the popcorn with milk and sugar. This is the first known breakfast cereal.
Popcorn is listed as a sugar free snack by the American Dental Association. It is low in calories along with apples, cheese, pears, nuts and plain yogurt.
The American Diabetes Association uses popcorn as a bread exchange for weight control. Popcorn aids in digestion and provides the necessary roughage and fiber. This helps the overall health of the body. It is listed third on the 11 things that don’t cause cancer. One cup of popcorn provides the 1.3 grams of dietary fiber needed.
The unpopped kernels are called “old maids” or “spinsters”. Good popcorn should produce less than 2 percent of “old maids”. Popcorn kernels will start popping at the temperature of 347 degrees. Popcorn can pop as high as 3 feet.
Popcorn has more phosphorus, protein, and iron than ice cream cone, pretzels, potato chips or soda crackers.
Popcorn is enjoyed in many different flavors in other parts of the world. Germany, Luxemburg, Switzerland and Belgium like their popcorn sweet. Americans love their popcorn with salt and butter and a host of sweet coatings. The Japanese eat their popcorn with seaweed or shrimp flavorings.