Kettle corn, buttery movie theater popcorn, caramel corn ... is your mouth watering yet?
While we might need to nix the idea of sharing a tub of popcorn (thanks, COVID-19), we can still celebrate today. According to the National Day Calendar, everyone can celebrate all things popcorn on January 19. Today is National Popcorn Day.
(And we're not talking about your popcorn ceiling from the 1960s.)
While the earliest popcorn is said to be more than five centuries old, evidence of early popcorn has been found in the United States, Peru, Guatemala, and other locations in Central and South America. In the late 1800s, Charles Cretors made the first commercial popcorn machine. This machine was mobile, drawn by horses, so it greatly increased the accessibility and popularity of popcorn throughout Chicago.
Popcorn comes only from one variety of corn, zea mays everta. "It looks very similar to a typical corn kernel, however this variety is the only one which has the ability to pop once put under heat and pressure."
Louise Ruckheim stepped traditional popcorn up a notch by adding peanuts and molasses. Cracker Jack, complete with prizes in each box, was born. And in 1908, Take Me out to the Ballgame, an iconic anthem of baseball, included Cracker Jack in the national anthem of baseball was born. And baseball and Cracker Jacks were forever united.
Popcorn was introduced to movie theaters during the Great Depression. Naturally, popcorn is an inexpensive snack, so movie theater patrons were able to enjoy both a film and accompanying food. During World War II, sugar was rationed, so the production of candies and sweet snacks came to a screeching halt. An available (and affordable) snack of popcorn was here to stay.
Many families popped popcorn over an open fire, on the stovetop, or by using a stand-alone popcorn air popper. (This brings back memories of the smell of burned popcorn throughout the house.)
Microwave popcorn entered individual households in the early 1980s. Bags with the unpopped kernels were carefully laid inside a microwave (with the correct side up, of course), the microwave was set, and the whole family awaited the yummy goodness. About a decade later, newer microwaves were formatted with a "popcorn" button to ensure a proper time for popping the entire bag of popcorn.
Each year, the average person in America consumes 68 quarts of popcorn, and Americans as a whole take in 17.3 billion squats of popcorn.
How to Celebrate National Popcorn Day
There are lots of fun ways to celebrate today. Whether you're quarantining on your own or gathering with a small group of friends, safely try one (or all!) of these fun ideas.
- Grab a few friends and head to the movies to enjoy popcorn and a new favorite film. You may need to search for movie theaters that are open in your area. We know that Cinemark theaters are open in Colorado.
- Search your community for a locally-owned popcorn vendor (like Heaven's Popcorn in Loveland, Colorado). Support the local business and indulge in a fun treat.
- Grab a bag of microwave popcorn from your pantry, hit that delightful "Popcorn" button on your microwave, and enjoy.
- Be brave and attempt a few popcorn recipes in the kitchen. Interested in Extra-Gooey Old Fashioned Marshmallow Popcorn Balls, The Ultimate Soft & Chewy Carmel Popcorn, or Sour Cream and Onion Popcorn?
- Spend 30 minutes and transform your outdated popcorn ceiling. (Yes, we know the national holiday is dedicated to popcorn as a snack, but here's your chance to transform your ceiling:) Here's a quick tutorial.
What did you do to celebrate National Cheese Lover's Day? Share in the comments below.