You eat popcorn and so do we. But, barely does anyone of us actually try to learn about the facts about this enormously popular food.

So, today we decided to learn a few popcorn facts and share those facts with you. Needless to say, we will break up this article in segments that you can easily understand.

So, if you are ready, let us begin our learning process.

Popcorn Classification

When we are learning about popcorn facts, how can we not go through the scientific classification? It is important! Why is it important? Because, when did knowledge become unimportant? Any piece of knowledge you garner can become handy at any given time.

So, here is the classification:

KingdomPlantae
(Unranked)Angiosperms
(Unranked)Monocots
(Unranked)Commelinids
OrderPoales
FamilyPoaceae
GenusZea
SpeciesZea mays
SubspeciesZea mays everta

What is Popcorn? Facts 1-7

1. Popcorn is made from a type of corn kernel which puffs up when exposed to heat. 

2. The scientific name of popcorn is Zea mays everta.

3. Popped corn and pop-corn are other names of popcorn.

4. Popcorn is one of the five types of corn. The other four are flour, dent or field, sweet and flint. 

5. The kernel’s hull is made up of hard and starchy endosperm. 

6. The corn kernel contains some moisture in it and when the corn kernel is heated the moisture turns into vapor.

7. Thanks to the pressure from the vapor which keeps building the hull breaks and the kernel expands 20 to 50 times the of the original size of the corn kernel.

popcorn in bucket
Popcorn in classic striped bucket on yellow background. We have a commercial license for this image from Envato Elements. Please do not use this image without a proper license. Please avoid copyright lawsuits.

Popcorn Facts: A Quick History Recap: Facts 8-23

We should know history, don’t you think so? In case of popcorn though, history doesn’t really matter because all you are going to do is to eat popcorn! Where does history come in that?

Nowhere actually! But, sometimes, you can use this knowledge to play a quiz or be a superhero in your school on a trivia day. Sounds interesting? Fine! Let’s go…

8. It may be a bit surprising but popcorn was discovered thousands of years ago.  

9. Did you know that popcorn remnants were found in Mexico in 3600 BCE or 5600 BCE?

10. The kernels were sold as Pearls or Nonpareil on the East coast of the USA in the 19th century.

11. The word “popped corn” was used for the first time in the Dictionary of Americanisms written by John Russell Bartlett in 1848.

12. It was Charles Cretors who invented the popcorn maker in 1885 in Illinois, Chicago. This increased the accessibility of popcorn.

13. Creators eventually designed and deployed street carts which were equipped with popcorn makers which were powered by steam. 

14. Popcorn business thrived even during the Great Depression because the price of the popcorn was extremely cheap. This helped struggling farmers. One of them was Orville Redenbacher who later created a popcorn brand in 1970.

15. Because of World War II, sugar rations were decreased and candy production took a hit. Americans turned to popcorn and they consumed three times the popcorn than they used to have before World War II.

16. Popcorn made inroads into the theaters and a Midwestern theater owner, Glen W. Dickinson Sr. installed popcorn machines in his theaters in 1938. 

17. Needless to say, popcorn was giving more profits than movie tickets. The trend of having popcorn machines in theaters increased and down the line, it became a norm.

18. The first patent for a microwave popcorn bag was received by General Mills in the year 1981. 

19. This patent skyrocketed the sale of popcorn by large. 

20. Indiana’s Valparaiso, Iowa’s Schaller, Ohio’s Marion, Nebraska’s North Loup, Illinois’ Ridgway and Indiana’s Van Buren are popularly called the “Popcorn Capital of the World”.

21. Cretors invention was introduced by Cretors in 1893’s Colombian exposition. 

caramel popcorn
Bowl of caramel popcorn | We have a commercial license for this image from Envato Elements. Please do not use this image without a proper license. Please avoid copyright lawsuits.

22. In the same fair, Candied popcorn, a molasses-flavored popcorn (basically caramel popcorn), was introduced by F.W. Rueckheim. 

23. Louis Ruekheim, brother of F. W. Rueckheim, gave a few tweaks here and there to the candied popcorn and introduced Cracker Jack in 1896.

Facts on Popcorn: Cooking Popcorn | 24-26

If you think cooking popcorn was a child’s play, think again. There are technicalities involved and if you fail to follow those technical aspects then, you fail. So, here is what you need to know:

24. The kernels require a particular temperature to give best results. If you heat them quickly, you get half popped kernels and if you slow heat them, the kernels won’t pop at all.

25. Did you know that freshly harvested popcorn kernels are not really great to make popcorn because they have high moisture content?

26. Did you know that unpopped kernels are called old maids or spinsters? There is a hydrating process for these kernels so as to not get the “old maids”.

There is essentially a lot of science in the backend.

Varieties of Popcorn: Facts 27-28

27. There are two varieties of popcorn – the rice variety and the pearl variety. Earlier the color of rice variety popcorn was white and that of pearl one was yellowish or off-white.

28. However, now we get both the varieties in both the colors and also in different colors like mauve, purple, red, variegated etc.

Terminology of Popcorn: Facts 29-32

29. A popped kernel is called a “flake”. This flake can be of two types – mushroom flake and a butterfly flake or a snowflake.

30. Mushroom flakes are round and are less fragile and less tender. Butterfly flakes are tender, extremely fragile and they are irregular in shape.

31. Mushroom flakes are used in confectioneries like caramel corn and butterfly flakes are mostly consumed the way the flakes are.

32. Remember, popcorn is used when there are many pieces of popcorn and if there is only one, then we call it kernel. So, a group of kernels is popcorn.

Consumption and Popularity: Facts 33-37

How can we make a list of popcorn facts without talking about its popularity? So, here we go…

33. Undoubtedly popcorn is one of the favorite snacks at sport events, cinema halls etc. 

sweet chocolate popcorn in a bowl
Closeup of sweet chocolate popcorn in a crystal bowl | We have a commercial license for this image from Envato Elements. Please do not use this image without a proper license. Please avoid copyright lawsuits.

34. In the USA, salted popcorn is preferred and whereas in Germany, caramelized-sugar popcorn is preferred over the salted one. 

35. Did you know that popcorn was used as a cereal in the USA in the 1800s? They added milk and some sweetener like sugar to the popcorn and had it for breakfast.

36. There are many varieties of popcorn which are famous like popcorn balls (kernels stick to each other because of some sugary glue), Cracker Jack (consists of caramel covered popcorn and peanuts), Kettle corn (popcorn with both sugar and salt to it) etc. 

37. The popularity of popcorn balls has decreased over the years. It still serves as one of the traditional snacks of Halloween. 

Nutritional Value: Facts 38-46

38. If any oil, salt or other flavoring agents are not added, then the popcorn is a very good food. Air-popped popcorn is high in dietary fiber, antioxidants etc. Thanks to its antioxidant properties, it can help in reducing inflammation and may even help in prevent aging. 

39. 100 grams of air-popped popcorn contains around 87 grams of calories, 78 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of proteins and 5 grams of fat.

40. Because of its high dietary value, it aids in digestion and even helps in reducing weight. 

41. Did you know it is one of the 11 things which doesn’t cause cancer?

salted popcorn in a basket
Salt popcorn in a basket on the wooden table | We have a commercial license for this image from Envato Elements. Please do not use this image without a proper license. Please avoid copyright lawsuits.

42. However, the ones we get at the theaters or at any sporting events have high amounts of sugar, salt, butter, oil etc. which kills the nutritional value of popcorn.

43. Center for Science in the Public Interest carried out a study on “movie popcorn”. The theaters which were surveyed used coconut oil and once the kernels were popped, they topped them off with either butter or margarine.

44. In the study, it was proved that popcorn at the movie theater contains more fat than Big Mac, a breakfast of eggs and bacon, fries, and a steak dinner combined!

people eating popcorn in movie theater
Young people eating popcorn in movie theater | We have a commercial license for this image from Envato Elements. Please do not use this image without a proper license. Please avoid copyright lawsuits.

45. This trend is still going on. In fact, a small pack of popcorn from Regal Cinema Group, the largest theater chain in the USA, contains 29 grams of saturated fat which is one and a half days of daily intake of fat.

46. Hence, popcorn must be considered as a treat and not as a part of our diet.

Health Risks of Popcorn: Facts 47-48

While on the topic of popcorn facts, we cannot afford to miss the health risks of popcorn. Read on…

47. American Academy of Pediatrics warns that popcorn must not be served to children below four years because there is a risk of getting choked by the popcorn.

48. Microwavable popcorn contains some chemicals like diacetyl which are pretty harmful for our respiratory system. However, FDA considers it as safe.

Other Uses of Popcorn: Facts 49-50

49. Popcorn which are threaded onto a string are used as Christmas tree decoration in Balkan peninsula and some parts of North America.

50. Some shipping companies have used popcorn as packing material. However, it was not really successful because popcorn are highly flammable, attract pests and needless to say expensive. 

Random Popcorn Facts: 51-80

Okay, now that we have learned a few interesting things about popcorn, we will close our article with a list of random popcorn facts and trivia. They are pretty interesting and we are pretty sure you will have fun reading them. So, let’s being…

51. Popcorn is allergen free i.e. it is free from allergens like soy, dairy, gluten, egg, nuts etc.

52. One cup of unpopped popcorn contains around 1,600 kernels.

53. Did you know that kernels can pop upwards up to three feet high!

54. America consumes 17 billion quarts of popcorn annually. 

55. Of all the 50 states, Nebraska produces the most popcorn in the USA.

56. Did you know 70% of the popcorn produced is consumed at home?

little kid with popcorn in the cinema
Little kid with popcorn in the cinema | We have a commercial license for this image from Envato Elements. Please do not use this image without a proper license. Please avoid copyright lawsuits.

57. You will be shocked but for every 1$ popcorn sold at theaters will fetch them a profit of 90 cents!

58. Popcorn is Illinois‘ official snack. 

59. It is alleged that it was Christopher Columbus who introduced popcorn to Europeans in the 15th century.

60. Did you know that most microwaves have a popcorn control button?

61. The fact that popcorn contains a lot of polyphenols was proved by the University of Scranton. 

62. The ideal or most optimal temperature for popcorn popping is 400 to 460 degrees Fahrenheit or 204 to 237 degrees Celsius.

63. For you to get a full serving of the whole grains, you must consume three full cups of popcorn.

64. October is celebrated as National Popcorn Poppin Month in the USA.

65. January 19th is celebrated as the National Popcorn Day in the USA.

66. Before microwaves, stoves or popcorn machines were considered, popcorn was made using hot sand because hot sand provides the right type of heat for the kernels to pop.

67. Native Americans went a step ahead and created beer and soap out of popcorn.

68. The world’s largest popcorn ball weighed 5,000 pounds and was 12 feet in diameter.

69. In the 1950s, popcorn consumption decreased with the arrival of television set. People reduced going to the theaters and hence the popcorn production also decreased.

70. Pop ability is the term that is used to define the percentage of kernels that can pop in one batch.

71. Perry Spencer invented the microwave oven in 1945 and one of the major inspirations for invention is the ‘the need to make popcorn at home’.

72. The best place to store kernels is a cool, dry cupboard not in the refrigerator because keeping in the fridge dries up the moisture and the kernels will not pop.

73. Johnny B. created a world record by eating 40 popcorn kernels in a minute while being upside down.

74. The largest popcorn box was produced by Cineplexx (International) with a volume of 52.59 cubic meters.

75. Orville Redenbacher is No. 1 selling popcorn in the world. 

76. The peak period for sales of popcorn for home consumption happens in fall.

77. If you make a trail from Los Angeles to New York using popcorn, you will need 352,028,160 of them.

78. In every ten popcorn, there are 9 yellow popcorn and only 1 white popcorn.

79. Did you know that popcorn was banned from theaters in the 1920s because of the noise it made while eating popcorn.

80. The first food prepared in an oven was popcorn.

81. Popcorn was the first corn which was domesticated by the ancient people of Central America.

82. In Latvia, a man shot another man in a theater for eating his popcorn a little louder than usual. This happened in 2011.

83. Apart from Nebraska, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri are major producers of popcorn.

84. Aztec women used to participate in so called popcorn dance. They adorned their heads with popcorn garland. Aztec Indians used popcorn as headdresses, necklace, and other ornaments on the Gods and Goddesses statues. 

85. Peruvian Indians also used popcorn and they called it pisancalla. They used popcorn as confection.

86. Popcorn was seen in burials of coastal deserts of North Chile in South America. They were preserved in such a way that they can pop even today though they are over a thousand years old.

That concludes our list of 86 popcorn facts. Do you believe we missed something? If so, feel free to add those facts through our comments section.

Sources…

Wikipedia

Popcorn.org

Kickass Facts

Serious Facts

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