Popcorn History

Popcorn History

Popcorn is named after the popping sound it makes when it is ready, “Pop”. Not just any maize/corn can be used for popcorn,there is a specific type of corn for making it,hence the name ‘Popcorn’ and popcorn is full of many histories.

The scientific name for the type of corn used in making popcorn is ‘Zea Mays Everta’. There is the yellow corn of it & there is the white corn of it. Although both would give you the familiar popcorn taste,there is a little difference in taste between the white & yellow corn.

Corns for making Popcorn

Man has been eating popcorn for over 5000 years although it was first made in a crude way but the process kept getting refined until it got to the more technological advanced way it is made now.

The first people to eat popcorn were the people of Ancient Mexico from the Aztec Empire. The people of Aztec Empire valued popcorn so much so that they not only used it to adore their body as a neck piece aside from eating it, they also used it as necklace & decoration item for few of their gods which included ‘Tlaloc’, the God of rain & fertility. The people of Aztec Empire also used popcorn during rituals and ceremonies. The Aztec even had a language for many kernels (a part of the corn) popping at once, which is ‘Totopoca’.

Bowls Of Popcorn

Ancient Mexicans were not the ones to eat popcorns for thousands of years. South Americans including Peru have been eating popcorn for thousands of years. Outside of South America & Native America, the other world history of eating popcorn is not up to a thousand years,they only became aware of popcorn in recent centuries.
South Americans & Native Americans made soups & beer out of popcorns.

Popcorn History

One of the oldest archeological findings of popcorn is from New Mexico, dating over 5000 years.
In 1948, individual popped kernels & small heads of corn in a dry cave “Bat Cave” was discovered by Herbert Dick & Earle Smith. The kernels were carbon dated to be 5,600 years old.

South America have a very long history with popcorn that popcorn have been found in different burial sites across South America including tombs in Peru, one of such tombs in Peru had corns for making popcorn dating to over 1000 years old, the corns were so well preserved that they could still be used for making popcorns that would pop excellently well now.

In the 1800s, aside from popcorn eaten as a snack, it was eaten as a cereal with milk & sugar.

In 1890s, Charles Cretors, a candy store owner invented the first mobile popcorn machine which was powdered by steam. It was a commercial success,afterwards, he exhibited his popcorn machine at the World’s Exposition.

Popcorn Machine

In 1893,two German immigrants in America created two popcorn recipes, one was with eating popcorn with peanuts (groundnuts), the second was popcorn with molasses, this initial creation made the popcorn very sticky but they later created an improved recipe that didn’t make the popcorn so sticky because of the molasses. Their popcorn was called ‘Cracker Jack’ which is still existence today.

Caramelized Popcorns

Today, aside from the simply plain popcorn, there are many flavors & recipes of popcorn which includes; Cinnamon popcorn, caramel popcorn, chocolate popcorn, sugar popcorn, salty popcorn,cheese popcorn,garlic popcorn, chili popcorn, butter & salt popcorn.

Before the great depression of 1929- 1939, popcorns were sold outside cinemas, cinemas owners didn’t like this but couldn’t stop it. Cinema owners also shut down the idea of ever selling popcorns in their cinema houses because they didn’t see it as meeting the the prestige of a cinema until during the great depression, when many cinema houses were shutting down because of the financial crises from the great depression, to meet the cost of running cinema houses, cinema owners started buying into the popcorn idea & selling popcorns in cinemas because of the over 80 percent profit from sells of popcorn alone.

Popcorn at the cinema

In 1980s, Pillsbury created microwave popcorn. The initial edition contained real butter & had to be refrigerated or put in a freezer.

Popcorns that are round are called mushroom popcorns while popcorn with undefined shapes are called butterfly popcorns.

United States of America consumes the most popcorn in the world.


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