Popcorn: The America’s Oldest Snack?

Popcorn: The America’s Oldest Snack?

Jul 29th 2020

It’s one of the simplest snacks around, but how often do you think about where popcorn came from? This salty snack has its roots that are centuries old, and has been enjoyed for as many years. Check out some of these fascinating facts about the history of popcorn.

Southern origins

While the kind of popcorn we snack on today has origins that go as far back as 5000 B.C.E, you might not know that popcorn wasn’t found growing in America(east of the Mississippi) until the early 1800’s . Today, the midwest is known as the“corn belt,” with much of the nation’s popcorn production originating from the area.

Fun facts:

  • Popcorn didn’t appear in pop culture until the 1820s, and it was sold as "pearl" or "nonpareil."
  • By the 1840s, popcorn was referenced in popular magazines, such as the Knickerbocker and Yale Literary Magazine.
  • The word "popcorn" appeared in the Dictionary of Americanisms in 1848.

Movie theater snacks and more

With its newfound popularity, popcorn began to enjoy success in different variations. For example, in the 1890s, Cracker Jacks were invented — a snack made with popcorn, peanuts, and molasses that is still popular today. Popcorn’s mass appeal was boosted with the advent of movie theaters. At first, popcorn was sold by hawkers who walked up and down movie theater aisles, but soon, movie theaters began to sell it themselves when certain theaters went out of business for refusing to sell the salty treat.

More fun facts:

  • Popcorn became a popular household staple during the Great Depression.
  • During World War II, Americans ate three times as much popcorn as usual.
  • Microwave popcorn was invented in the early 1980s.
  • Today, American’s consume 14 billion quarts of popcorn each year.

So the next time you pop a fresh bowl of popcorn, remember that your favorite snack has a long, delicious history!