Happy National Popcorn Day! Popcorn has a long history, dating back thousands of years. To celebrate National Popcorn Day, we are taking a brief look at the history of popcorn and popcorn makers. Popcorn has become an extremely popular snack food and a healthy one at that. It is a whole grain, full of fiber, gluten free, and low in fat and calories. This is, of course, popcorn without all the butter and salt that movie theaters and a lot of people add to it. All in all, popcorn is a pretty great snack.
Popcorn wasn’t only just a snack though. It served an important part to some Native American cultures. It was a good source of food, and was used to decorate headdresses, or worn as necklaces or other jewelry. It is unclear how many tribes used popcorn, but it is known that popcorn was important to the Aztecs. As the population in the Americas grew, so did the use of popcorn. It was made in any type of pot that could be used over an open fire and cooked in lard or butter.
Popcorn was not always easily accessible to people until the mid 1800 with the use of the moldboard plow. This plow lead to a widespread planting of maize in the United States. People were still using pots over open fires to pop their popcorn. This method still works, but a stove top might be easier.
Popcorn's low cost made it accessible to a lot of people, and ideal for holiday gifts and decorations. The first mobile popcorn machine was introduced in 1893 at the Word’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. This machine did not use an open flame and had a box to hold the popcorn after it had been popped. It was designed to be moved around to different fair grounds, political rallies, or anywhere else people would gather.
This mobile machine helped increase the popularity of the snack. Popcorn's popularity hit a big boom during the great depression. At 5-10 cents a bag, popcorn was a luxury down and out families could actually afford. People with mobile popcorn machines benefited slightly from this. In fact there are stories of people buying mobile popcorn machine earn back what was lost. While most snack and confection sales decreased during the depression, popcorn sales increased.
The low cost also helped popcorn's introduction into the movie theaters. With low cost to owners, they were able to lower ticket prices and charge for the popcorn. This ended up making them more money, and theaters without popcorn machines ended up going out of business. These machines in the theaters were the same at the mobile one, just without wheels.
Popcorn hit a slump in the 1950 when people started watching tv at home instead of going to the theaters. This eventually led to the invention of microwave popcorn in the 1980. Today most of the popcorn consumed around the world is produced in America and Americans consumer the most. It’s no wonder why, popcorn is a great snack that is perfect for sharing. Popcorn is a great party snack, and a machine can add a little something extra to any great event.