On January 19th, National Popcorn Day pops onto the scene with a crunch we all love to enjoy! The annual celebration recognizes a treat that satisfies munchies, day or night.
This time-honored snack can be sweet or savory, caramelized, buttered or plain, molded into a candied ball, or tossed with nuts and chocolate. However, it is enjoyed, enjoy it on National Popcorn Day, January 19th.
The word “corn” in Old English meant “grain” or, more specifically, the most prominent grain grown in a region. As maize was the most common grain in early America, the word “corn” was aptly applied.
As early as the 16th century, the Aztec used popcorn in headdresses worn during ceremonies honoring Tlaloc, their god of maize and fertility. Early Spanish explorers were fascinated by the corn that burst into what looked like a white flower.
Popcorn started becoming popular in the United States in the middle 1800s. It wasn’t until Charles Cretors, a candy-store owner, developed a machine for popping corn with steam that the tasty treat became more abundantly poppable. By 1900 he had horse-drawn popcorn wagons going through the streets of Chicago.
At about the same time, Louise Ruckheim added peanuts and molasses to popcorn to bring Cracker Jack to the world. Then in 1908, the national anthem of baseball was born. Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer wrote Take Me out to the Ballgame. From that point onward, popcorn, specifically, Cracker Jack, became forever married to the game.
History of Popcorn Day
To discuss the history of Popcorn day one must understand the history of Popcorn. The original corn was derived from a small grass with kernels not much different than that of wheat, careful selection, and generations of breeding have resulted in what we think of today as the corn plant. When settlers came to the New World from the Old Country, they discovered this amazing crop and that it had been in use for time out of mind.
Sometime along the line, it was realized that certain corn kernels, when subjected to heat, will pop and reveal their soft fluffy endosperm in a cloud around their shell. Before long it was discovered to be a light and delicious treat, and cultivation led to the popcorn we have today. There’s actually two types of popcorn, but the familiar yellow popcorn we all see in movie theaters is by far the most popular. Popcorn has been used for everything from arts and crafts to the foundation of some of the most popular treats around. You can find it just about anywhere you go. The National Popcorn Board decided that this fluffy treat needed a day of celebration and recognition of its own, and thus was born Popcorn day!