Popcorn Facts

Popcorn Health

These days, Americans are snacking more than ever. In fact, roughly 25% of the total calories we eat every day come from snacks, which is why it’s important to choose foods that fit into our healthy lifestyles.

One way we can snack smarter is by adding more whole grains and fiber to our diets. Only 20% of Americans reach the recommended whole grain intake, and only 5% reach the recommended fiber amount.

Luckily for us, popcorn provides both of these nutrients, especially compared to other common snacks like chips and candy. Studies have even shown that popcorn eaters have twice the amount of whole grains in their diet and about 20% more fiber.

Another reason popcorn should be your snack of choice is because you can eat more for fewer calories. Other snacks can have triple the amount of calories in a one-cup serving. So next time you’re craving a snack, choose the one that allows you to have all of the flavor, with none of the guilt.

Popcorn History

Early Popcorn History

  • The earliest evidence of popcorn was found in Peru and dates to 4700 BCE.
  • It is believed that the first use of wild and early-cultivated corn was for popping.*
  • Ancient popcorn poppers – shallow vessels with a hole on the top, a single handle – have been found on the north coast of Peru and date back to the pre-Incan Mochica culture of about 300 A.D.
  • The English colonists were introduced to popcorn at the first Thanksgiving feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Quadequina, brother of the Wampanoag chief Massasoit, brought a deerskin bag of popped corn to the celebration as a gift.

Recent Popcorn History

  • The first popcorn machine was invented by Charlie Cretors in 1893.*
  • Home poppers were first introduced around 1925.
  • In 1945, Percy Spencer discovered that when popcorn was placed under microwave energy, it popped. This led to experiments with other foods, and the birth of the microwave oven.
  • Attendance at movie theaters dropped and, with it, popcorn consumption. When the public began eating popcorn at home, the new relationship between television and popcorn led to a resurgence in popularity.
  • Americans consume some 16 billion quarts of this whole grain, good-for-you treat. That's 51 quarts per man, woman and child.*
  • Popcorn kernels can pop up to 3 feet in the air.*
  • The world’s largest popcorn ball was created by volunteers in Sac City, Iowa in February 2009. It weighed 5,000 lbs., stood over 8 ft. tall, and measured 28.8 ft. in circumference.*

How Popcorn Pops

Popcorn is a whole grain maize product, grown extensively in the corn belt states of the U.S. It’s like corn-on-the-cob in appearance and cultivation, but only popcorn kernels are capable of popping.

Popcorn’s ability to pop lies in the fact that the kernels contain a small amount of water stored in a circle of soft starch inside the hard outer casing. When heated, the water expands, creating pressure within, until eventually the casing gives way and the kernels explode and pop. This allows the water to escape as steam, turning the kernels inside out.

The key to having more kernels pop is a constantly improved product. Throughout the years, popcorn processors have implemented significant hybrid popcorn seed research to continually enhance their product.

* Information obtained from www.popcorn.org