Who invented popcorn

By Matt Williamson
Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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bucket of popcorn
Popcorn has been both a favorite snack and decoration for generations
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No one knows who invented popcorn, although we have enjoyed it for centuries

Some may wonder "who invented popcorn"? Popcorn has been a favorite snack literally for centuries. Now it is an American favorite sold at movie theaters across the country as well as in gift baskets given on holidays. It is unclear who the first person to actually invent this favorite snack food, however the oldest ears of corn for popping found to date were discovered in a bat cave off west central New Mexico in 1948. The bat cave corn ears are gauged to be approximately 4,000 years old.

That proves that Americans have literally been snacking on popcorn for centuries!

This snack food was "invented" by other people in the world as well. It is probably safe to assume that it was popular in places where corn was grown as a major food source. In 1519, Cortes saw the white popped kernels when he invaded Mexico and first met the Aztecs. It was important to the Aztec Indians as a food source. But, they also made necklaces and decorated their headdresses with it. It has been recorded that the Peruvian Indians in the 16th century were also using corn for popping.

Popcorn has been very popular in America. From the 1800s until the Great Depression, street vendors would sell it using steam or gas-powered poppers. The very first commercial machine was invented by Charles Cretors in 1885 in Chicago, Illinois. There are even old fashioned poppers that'll give your favorite snack the same old time flavor that first hooked our society on it.

Popcorn was priced at about five or ten cents a bag during the Depression, and it was a little luxury that most families could afford. This meant that the snack business still did well through the Depression.

A favorite treat during the late 1800s through the early 1900s was the popcorn ball. Balls of popped corn are simple to make. Many people still enjoy them today, and make them especially for the holiday season. People in the 1800s also ate flavored popcorn. Some favorite flavorings include rose, honey, molasses and sugar. It was also used to make wonderful holiday decorations like garlands that draped the Christmas tree or fireplace mantle in many Victorian households.

During WWII, popcorn became an extremely patriotic snack because sugar was rationed; Americans snacked on more of the fluffly white stuff than ever before. It remained a popular snack throughout the rest of the twentieth century. With such an interesting history and so many fun facts, not to mention tasty, its no wonder why this food has been apart of American society for so long.

Today, it is said that Americans eat more than any other part of the world. We eat it at ballparks, state fairs, carnivals, rodeos, movie theatres, and also at home. Microwaveable packages is an industry all of its own – with many people eating microwaved snacks every week as their special indulgence. Corn used specifically for popping is primarily grown in America, in states including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio.

A popular gift at holiday time is large cans of the treat, with pretty decorations on them. A traditional can has three kinds in it – cheese, caramel and butter flavored. But you can find this treat in just about any flavor that you desire. There is white chocolate, peppermint, chocolate fudge, cheddar cheese  – just to name a delicious few. If there is a flavor you can think of –surely you can find everyone's favorite snack in that flavor!

Popcorn is certainly a snack that we have enjoyed for centuries and that we will continue to enjoy for many centuries to come.

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