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Jump for joy! National Popcorn Day is Sunday

Not even the Popcorn Board knows why National Popcorn Day falls on January 19.

Butter and garlic, anyone? National Popcorn Day is Sunday.
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Maybe it’s something to do with the NFL playoffs or hockey season.

Doesn’t matter. Job One is to promote popcorn.

Indians invented popcorn

No one knows how people first discovered that certain strains of corn pop when heated, but as soon as they knew, they added to their own mythology to explain why it happens.

Some Native Americans still believe that a spirit lives inside each kernel of popcorn and that as the kernel is heated, the spirit grows angry and burst out of its home and into the air.

Most food historians stand silent on the little angry spirits, but they do contend that the first use of wild corn was for popping.

Indigenous to Peru, popcorn – momochitl or pisancalla – is one of the oldest forms of cultivated corn, dating back to about 4,700 BC.

The Aztecs used popcorn in religious ceremonies to decorate headdresses, necklaces and temple statues, including those Tlaloc, the god of rain and fertility.

In North America, the oldest specimens or popcorn, found in New Mexico, date from 3,600 BC.

It is known that the Pilgrims and their Indians ate popcorn at the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

Popcorn bar trivia

What would National Popcorn Day be without a little bar trivia?

Take some time to study up before you head for your favorite watering hole to celebrate:

  • The scientific name for popcorn is Zea mays everta. It is maize, which like corn is a grass.
  • Popcorn is the only species of corn that can be popped.
  • Popcorn is a whole grain.
  • Each kernel of popcorn contains a droplet of water that turns to steam when it’s heated to 212 F° and pops the hull open with it reaches 347 F°.
  • The pressure inside a hot kernel of popcorn reaches about 135 pounds per square inch before it pops.
  • A popped kernel of popcorn is 40-50 times bigger than its original size.
  • Popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories, contains fiber, providing roughage the body needs in the daily diet and has no artificial additives or preservatives, and is sugar-free.
  • According to the most recent data available (from 2007), popcorn is grown in 29 US states on 968 farms. Popcorn production totaled 860.9 million pounds.
  • Americans today consume 16 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year. The average American eats about 51 quarts.
  • Microwave popcorn -- the very first use of microwave heating in the 1940s – accounted for $240 million in annual US popcorn sales by the 1990s.
  • During WW II, Percy Spencer of Raytheon Manufacturing Corporation figured out how to mass produce magnetrons, the thing that makes microwaves work, and began research on developing ovens using popcorn in his experiments.
  • Charles Cretors, founder of C. Cretors and Company in Chicago, introduced the world's first mobile popcorn machine at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. It weighed about 450 pounds, light enough to be pulled by hand or on a small cart “to any picnic ground, fair, political rally, etc.”

About the Popcorn Board

A non-profit established by an Act of Congress in April 1998 and funded by US popcorn processors, the Popcorn Board works to raise awareness about popcorn – a truly American national commodity.

The Popcorn Board promotes popcorn as a versatile, whole-grain snack through research and marketing.

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OFFICIAL BIO: K Truitt is a second-generation, native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Truitt worked in public higher education for 25 years and knows newspaper publishing, printing and graphic design. Contact: kt.4examiner@yahoo.com