Popcorn, the white fluffy pieces of delight has been around as a food staple for thousands of years and was introduced by the Native Americans to popular culture. Evidence of popcorn has dated back to 3600 B.C. and was found in New Mexico.
During the early part of the 19th century, popcorn was easy and cheap to make and many fortunes were created during this time period. With the Great Depression and the Great Wars, popcorn became a commodity that was easy to make, sell and the profits were endless as farmers struggled during this time to feed their families.
Each kernel is encased in its own hard shell and is impervious to moisture, as you heat the oil and water found inside the kernel, to a pressurized point; the kernels heat and with no where for the moisture to go, the kernels will explode as the hard starch found inside becomes soft and pliable.
Although small quantities of popcorn can be made at home with stove top pots and kettles, it wasn't until 1885 when Charles Cretors invented the first commercial popcorn machines. During the Columbian Exposition of 1893, Charles introduced his new popcorn machine opening the doors for commercial usage. It should be noted that during this same exposition, brothers, F. W. and Louis Rueckheim added molasses to their popcorn and by 1896, Cracker Jacks was on store shelves where it has been ever since.
Cretors newest popping sensation was steam driven and popped the corn in oil, until then, vendors would pop the corn in a wire basket over an open flame, resulting in popcorn having a less flavourable consistency than their stove top compatriots. Cretors successfully figured out how to heat the oil without causing a fire to vendors while allowing a full-flavoured product to be produced for consumers.
Popcorn can be eaten in a variety of methods and is an excellent source of fibre as well as being low in calories and fat; in its natural state. However, the standard fair is to have popcorn drenched in butter and salt defraying the health benefits that popcorn can be without the added flavours. Speciality flavoured salts will allow your popcorn to have any flavour you wish, from Dill Pickle to Cajun Spice, popcorn can be easily made to taste as per an individuals flavour preferences.
For the children, one could add corn starch to bind the popcorn into balls and add all kinds of candy goodies to enhance the appetite. It is said that movie popcorn, after its popped in coconut oil and drenched in butter or margerine has more fat calories than a bacon and egg breakfast, a Big Mac and fries and a steak dinner combined. As well, children under four shouldn't be given popcorn as it has a tendency to choke and microwaved popcorn has been listed as a hindrance to respiratory ailments as the flavouring agents needed to cook the popcorn in the microwave, has Diaceytl, an additive used in beer and butter making. When heated and inhaled over long periods of time, it can cause severe health issues.
Which ever way you make popcorn, stove top, microwaved or with a popcorn popper, it is a healthy alternative to potato chips and a delicious way to enjoy an evening.