Oh, Popcorn! Delicious and delightful, popcorn is part of so many traditions. Popcorn balls at Halloween, popcorn strings at Christmas, and delicious buttery popcorn all year round at the movies!
Corn has played an important role in the diets of many cultures, and has spread to be a worldwide phenomenon since it was imported from the new world. So on National Popcorn Day make sure you have yourself a great big bowl of this delicious treat!
History of National Popcorn Day
To discuss the history of Popcorn day, one must understand the history of Popcorn. The original corn was derived from a small grass with kernels not much different than that of wheat. Careful selection and generations of breeding has resulted in what we think of today as the corn plant. When settlers came to the New World from the Old Country, they discovered this amazing crop and that it had been in use for quite some time.
Sometime along the line (possibly even thousands of years ago!), it was realized that certain corn kernels, when subjected to heat, will pop and reveal their soft fluffy endosperm in a cloud around their shell. Before long it was discovered to be a light and delicious treat, and cultivation led to the popcorn we have today.
There are actually two types of popcorn, but the familiar yellow popcorn we all see in movie theaters is by far the most popular. Popcorn has been used for everything from arts and crafts to the foundation of some of the most popular treats around. You can find it just about anywhere you go. The National Popcorn Board decided that this fluffy treat needed a day of celebration and recognition of its own, and thus was born Popcorn day!
National Popcorn Day Timeline
First known use of popcorn
While it is unclear how far back in human history popcorn goes, a cave in New Mexico shows that popped kernels of corn may have been in use more than 5000 years ago.
First commercial corn popping machine invented
After settlers to the early US colonies learn about the tradition of popping corn from native peoples, the industrial revolution prompts the invention of a machine to do the work. Charles Cretors of Chicago makes a mobile machine with a gas burner that can roam the streets and supply popcorn to pedestrians and movie-goers.
Microwave popcorn bag patent is approved
Making popcorn even quicker and easier to eat, the General Mills patent for microwave popcorn bags is approved. Intake of the snack increases by thousands of pounds in the following years.
National Popcorn Day coincides with Superbowl Sunday
Announced in The Calumet City Star, as well as other publications, National Popcorn Day is placed on January 31st, presumably to coordinate with families all over the United States who are throwing Super Bowl parties.
First recorded incidence of National Popcorn Day on January 19
No one is really sure why it is moved, but a newspaper in Brownfield, Texas, gives the first indication that National Popcorn Day has been moved to January 19. And this date seems to stick!
How to Celebrate National Popcorn Day
Celebrating National Popcorn Day is as simple and delicious as it comes! You can start by just enjoying a bag of popcorn with your favorite toppings, and oh what delectable variety there is.
Ways to Enjoy Popcorn
You can have it with a classic mix of butter and salt, or get creative and add your favorite spices and herbs to it! There really isn’t anything that doesn’t go wonderfully with it. For a light heart-healthy addition you can skip the butter and shake it down with herbs like rosemary and thyme, or spice it up with cayenne. Or you can forgo the healthy options and bury it under a delicious coating of caramel and bacon, and really enjoy the decadence.
Go Global with Popcorn
First made readily available in America in the early 1800s, this delightful treat has grown in popularity so that it is now a delicacy found the world over. And different places seem to enjoy their popcorn in different ways:
- Japan. In addition to the standards, folks here appreciate flavors such as honey, milk tea, and curry.
- Europe. Enjoyed here as a sugary treat, popcorn is often sold in bags at the cinema, rather than freshly popped.
- Nigeria. Best enjoyed by popping it in the microwave, a preferred flavor of popcorn here is fruit chutney.
- India. In addition to the standard butter and salt popcorn, popcorn here can be found in unique flavors such as miso soup, Thai red coconut, and anchovy garlic.
Crafting with Popcorn
You can also celebrate popcorn by doing crafts with it! Popcorn strings are a wonderful decoration or use them to make garlands or even glue it to construction paper for a collage.
String or glue popcorn onto a metal or styrofoam form to make a festive popcorn wreath to welcome friends into your National Popcorn Day party. And don’t forget the paint and glitter to glitz it up even more!
Popcorn can even be used as a filling for glass Christmas ornaments to make cute decorations that give a little nod to the day.
Grab Some Gourmet Popcorn
If making popcorn at home doesn’t sound like fun, then go fancy by including some of these gourmet popcorn brands in the celebration. These companies are dedicated to making the best there is to offer in the way of popcorn treats:
- Garrett Popcorn Shops. Originally located in the Chicago area, this company specializes in mixing Caramel and Cheese flavors for an extra unique blend. Shops can now be found not only in the United States but also in many places in Asia as well as the United Arab Emirates.
- KuKuRuZa Gourmet Popcorn. Started in Seattle but named after the Russian word for “corn”, this company now does business in many countries in Asia and the Middle East, with online ordering throughout the world. Special flavors include Truffle Fromage Porcini, Seattle Style (Espresso Caramel), and Brown Butter & Sea Salt.
- Harry & David’s Moose Munch. On the sweeter side of things, Moose Munch is a popcorn based treat that has been delighting fans for 25 years with its blend of popcorn, nuts and chocolate. If there’s no local shop nearby, online ordering is easy–or copycat recipes can make it simple to recreate at home.
- Proper Corn. A fast-growing company in the United Kingdom, this popcorn company started in 2009 and has been delighting healthy snackers ever since! Look for flavors such as Sweet Coconut & Vanilla or Sour Cream & Black Pepper found in grocery stores in Europe as well as online in other countries.
The fun of popcorn can be enjoyed almost anytime, but National Popcorn Day is a particularly special day to celebrate this tasty treat. Popcorn is delicious, affordable, healthy (that is, before adding all of the butter, salt or sugar!) and can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways that is sure to delight everyone around.
Get creative for this special celebration and live up National Popcorn Day to the fullest with children and adults of all ages!