By Patti Usowski, Associate Circulation Manager, Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library
As the c-c-cold winter days begin to creep in, there is nothing better to do than to hunker down indoors and enjoy a nice movie. Whether you are checking out a DVD from the library or are streaming something through Kanopy, no movie night is complete without a hot, buttery bowl of popcorn! But how did popcorn become such a fan favorite?
You may be surprised to learn popcorn is really, really old. According to Chris Peterson, the author of Popcorn County, the oldest popcorn ears were found by archaeologists in 1948 in a place called Bat Cave in New Mexico. The oldest of these ears is estimated to be about 4,000 years old! Given that microwaves weren’t around back then, the people of the time had to find alternative ways to pop their popcorn. Of course, over a fire is an obvious solution, but some people got a little more creative with it. Members of the Iroquois Tribe in the Great Lakes region around the 1600s would even bury their popcorn in hot sand to pop it.
In 1885, Chicago candy shop owner Charles Cretors invented the first popcorn machine consisting of a glass cabinet holding a popping kettle. By 1893, the popularity of popcorn exploded when fairgoers attended the Columbian Exposition held in Chicago and crowds gathered to watch the “poppers.”
Pop ahead to the 1940’s when popcorn was three times more popular than before the start of World War II. This is in part due to popcorn being more readily available and much cheaper than other snack foods, especially with sugar very much in demand for soldiers overseas. Add to that the popularity of the microwave oven and the introduction of the microwavable popcorn bag in 1981, more people than ever find it easy to pop onto the couch with a bowl of popcorn and watch their favorite show.
Not Just A Tasty Treat
Of course, popcorn is tasty, but did you also know that there are many health benefits to eating popcorn? According to Elaine Landau, the author of Popcorn!, popcorn is sugar-free and is an almost fat-free source of carbohydrates with protein and iron. This delicious snack is also popping with fiber. So what are you waiting for? Time to get popping!