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The Evolution Of Popcorn Toppings

Although popcorn has been around since approximately 4700 BC, it’s taken on many transformations then, as far as toppings and flavorings are concerned. How did they all end up on one of America’s favorite crunchy snacks?

While several countries around the globe serve popcorn salted, butter seems to be an American trend. Early America served popcorn at festivals, and could be made at home, over the fireplace and seasoned with butter or grease. In the 1800s, Americans enjoyed popcorn as a breakfast cereal that was eaten with milk and sugar.

In 1893, the Chicago World’s Fair introduced Cracker Jack, a snack of popcorn, peanuts, and molasses. In 1925, popcorn was sold in movie theaters and often made a bigger profit than the movie itself.

In the 1950’s, people started spending money on holiday treats, thus popcorn tins were born. Consumers could purchase flavored popcorn in sealed tins and give them as gifts.

Just ten years later, candied popcorn was introduced, known as Poppycock. The original snack consisted of popcorn clusters, almonds, and pecans, covered in a candied glaze. Later, other combinations were introduced that included cashews, chocolate, and pecans.

In the 1980s, light microwave popcorn was introduced.

It wasn’t until the 2000s that people began putting non-traditional toppings—such as spices and cheese—on their popcorn.

In the United Kingdom, they top their popcorn with salt or sugar, while in Peru, they sometimes serve their popcorn with candy or sweetened condensed milk. In Mexico, they like to spice their popcorn up with jalapeno juice, hot sauce, or cheese.

Today, all sorts of popcorn seasonings are sold for people to add to their popcorn and enjoy at home. Several shopping malls are also home to gourmet popcorn shops that sell unique flavors such as beer, Butterfinger, blue cheese, jalapeno, marshmallow, pumpkin, cupcake, and black truffle, among many others.