For more than 30 years, October has been celebrated as National Popcorn Poppin’ Month; however, it became "official" in 1999, when then Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman proclaimed October as National Popcorn Poppin’ Month.
While every day is a great day for celebrating popcorn, the month of October was chosen because of the popcorn harvest which takes place each fall in the Midwest. Each year when the new crop is harvested, it reminds us popcorn will always be the naturally fun snack for the entire family.
There is evidence that popcorn has been around as long as 4,000 years. An early Spanish account of a ceremony honoring the Aztec gods who watched over fishermen reads: "They scattered before him parched corn, called momochitl, a kind of corn which bursts when parched and discloses its contents and makes itself look like a very white flower; they said these were hailstones given to the god of water."
- Americans consume some 16 billion quarts of this whole grain, good-for-you treat. That’s 51 quarts per man, woman, and child.
- Compared to most snack foods, popcorn is low in calories. Air-popped popcorn has only 31 calories per cup. Oil-popped is only 55 per cup.
- Popcorn is a type of maize (or corn), a member of the grass family, and is scientifically known as Zea mays everta.
- Of the 6 types of maize/corn—pod, sweet, flour, dent, flint, and popcorn—only popcorn pops.
- Popcorn is a whole grain. It is made up of three components: the germ, endosperm, and pericarp (also know as the hull).
- Popcorn differs from other types of maize/corn in that is has a thicker pericarp/hull. The hull allows pressure from the heated water to build and eventually bursts open. The inside starch becomes gelatinous while being heated; when the hull bursts, the gelatinized starch spills out and cools, giving it its familiar popcorn shape.
- Most U.S. popcorn is grown in the Midwest, primarily in Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri.
- The peak period for popcorn sales for home consumption is in the fall.
- Most popcorn comes in two basic shapes when it’s popped: snowflake and mushroom. Snowflake is used in movie theaters and ballparks because it looks and pops bigger. Mushroom is used for candy confections because it doesn’t crumble.
- Popping popcorn is one of the number one uses for microwave ovens. Most microwave ovens have a "popcorn" control button.
- "Popability" is popcorn lingo that refers to the percentage of kernels that pop.
- How high 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.
I’m off to make my favorite chili cheese popcorn:
8 cups popped popcorn
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Place popcorn in a large bowl. In a small bowl stir together butter, chili powder, and garlic powder. Drizzle over popcorn; toss to coat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese; toss to coat. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature up to 3 days.