Popcorn is an amazing food, and a delightful treat, capable of being so many different forms of things. From the traditional buttered popcorn, to the colorful Saran wrapped candy popcorn balls that used to be given out by little ol’ Grandmas everywhere at Halloween, this hot popped corn treat has found its way into a wide variety of avenues within many cultures. It is even possible to find strung popcorn garlands adorning Christmas trees during the winter holidays!
But this particular day is dedicated to that very special form of popcorn, a favorite of people everywhere for over a hundred years – National Caramel Popcorn Day!
History of National Caramel Popcorn Day
Caramel popcorn would not be the same without the addition of caramel, which has a long history. In fact, its history can be traced back more than a thousand years to when Arabs first discovered the delicious treat by crystallizing sugar in boiling water.
But the history of popcorn goes out much further, about 10,000 years ago when corn was domesticated in what is now Mexico. Some evidence suggests that corn was popped as early as 4700 BC.
By the 19th century, corn was popped on the stovetop by hand. The term “popped corn” was first recorded in 1848 in John Russell Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms.
Caramel popcorn’s history goes back 150 years, and came to pass during a period where there were a number of patents being passed in the US that all had to do with adding candy to popcorn. The treat became so popular in the 100 years after its creation that Caramel Popcorn shops pretty much guaranteed a steady supply of income to those who invested in one.
During this time it wasn’t unusual to see vendors of this delicious treat on busy street corners, where streetcars and bus lines came through. Eventually it found its way into the midway, and has been a staple of carnival and fair treats ever since.
By 1893 Cracker Jack had been invented in Chicago by brothers Fred and Louis Rueckheim who debuted it at the World’s Fair that year. The Rueckheim brothers named it Cracker Jack because that was the declaration that one of their customers exclaimed about how delicious it was.
There is something about combining the buttery sugar goodness of caramel with the light airy nature of popcorn that just creates an amazing flavor combination that many people really just can’t stop eating. As if the richness of well-made caramel wasn’t enough, often this culinary delight has accents added to it in the form of peanuts, almonds, cashews, or even pecan!
The sticky nature of caramel corn lends itself well to forming balls out of it before the caramel sets, and throwing a drizzle of chocolate over this just makes it the absolute pinnacle of snack goodness.
National Caramel Popcorn Day Timeline
Caramel is made in the US
American pioneers are making hard caramel candies by boiling sugar in kettles.
The world “caramel” is recorded in English
Believed to have been borrowed from the French and Spanish words “caramelo”, English accepts the name for this delicious treat.
Caramel Popcorn is invented
Caramel Popcorn is brought into existence around this time by brothers Fred and Louis Rueckheim in Chicago, USA.
Cracker Jack is registered
After one of the Rueckheim brothers’ customers exclaims “That’s a crackerjack!”, the brothers register their product and begin mass producing it.
Fiddle Faddle is born
With two versions, caramel or butter toffee and mixed with peanuts, Fiddle Faddle is a hit with drug store customers.
How to Celebrate National Caramel Popcorn Day
Enjoying and celebrating National Caramel Popcorn Day can be a load of fun and there are a variety of ways it can be observed. Try out some of these delightful ideas or come up with some of your own:
Buy and Enjoy Some Delicious Caramel Corn
Of course, National Caramel Popcorn Day is the perfect time to take the opportunity to try this special treat, even if it is just going out and buying a bag from the local grocery store. Whatever is done, take the opportunity to grab up a bag of this delicious variety of Caramel Corn.
If it is a little difficult to find anywhere nearby that makes it fresh, that’s okay! Another viable option is to try Cracker Jack, one of the original versions of this treat that has been loved everywhere. With its combination of caramel covered popcorn mixed in with salty peanuts, it has set a standard for what caramel corn should be. One other brand of caramel popcorn that is popular with Americans is Fiddle Faddle.
Try Making Caramel Popcorn at Home
For the braver souls out there, one great suggestion would be trying to make this treat from scratch at home. The simplest way, of course, is merely to buy a bag of caramels from the grocery store, along with some plain popping corn.
Then, go ahead and melt the caramels in a double boiler, and pour the resultant rich silky material over the popped corn, shaking to prevent it from sticking together in the process.
Or, for a more traditional version of caramel popcorn, try finding a caramel corn recipe online that includes brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and baking soda.
Throw a National Caramel Popcorn Day Party
So after working out how to make this most basic form of caramel corn, the next step would be to organize a group to celebrate this day. Have everyone try out their own recipes for caramel corn, and bring them together for a spring-time get together. Another delightful idea is to try decorating using popcorn that is strung on strings. It would even be fun to hold it in a park under the sun, and have an old picnic style event heralding back to the weekend picnic at the park from the 50’s!
Try Garrett’s Popcorn in Chicago
Head back to the birthplace of caramel popcorn and enjoy some classic Garrett’s. With its first shop opened originally in 1949, Garrett’s has been known for making caramel popcorn for more than 70 years. Not only that, but their signature recipe is a combination of caramel popcorn and cheddar cheese popcorn mixed together, providing a sweet and savory flavor that can’t be beat.
Garrett’s now has more than fifty shops all over the globe, including Singapore, UAE, Malaysia, Hong Kong and many others. Plus, their delicious caramel popcorn products can be ordered online and delivered to the office or home.
Take Caramel Popcorn to the Next Level
Try choosing a variety of different fun additions to a caramel popcorn recipe, such as chocolate chunks, ground cinnamon, cereal pieces, colorful M&Ms or other clever ideas. Other ideas include adding certain flavors such as Kahlua liqueur, peanut butter, white chocolate and more. But it is just a bar to rise above, bringing some personal innovation to this treat is really the way to make this day special. So mix up a bag, take it to the office, and share it with all of those co-workers in celebration of National Caramel Popcorn Day!
National Caramel Popcorn Day FAQs
What is National Caramel Popcorn Day?
This day is devoted to enjoying and celebrating everything that has to do with the delightful treat that is Caramel Popcorn.
When is National Caramel Popcorn Day?
National Caramel Popcorn Day is celebrated each year on April 6.
How to celebrate National Caramel Popcorn Day?
Celebrating National Caramel Popcorn Day can be done with parties, making the treat of the day and sharing caramel popcorn with loved ones.
How is Caramel Popcorn made?
Caramel Popcorn is a delicious creation that requires the already popped popcorn to be covered in a light sauce made mainly from butter and sugar.
Is Caramel Popcorn gluten free?
Yes! Although it’s important to read the ingredients list, caramel popcorn is a treat that is usually made without gluten.