Popcorn Was Popular in Ancient Peru, Discovery Suggests

Popcorn Was Popular in Ancient Peru, Discovery Suggests


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People in what is now Peru were eating popcorn as early as 6,700 years ago, according to researchers. Telltale traces of their snacking habits—ancient cobs, husks, stalks and tassels—were recently unearthed at Paredones and Huaca Prieta, two coastal sites that were once home to prehistoric settlements. A study based on the find appeared this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

After examining the cobs, the researchers determined that the Peruvian sites’ ancient occupants didn’t only pop their corn: they also ground it into flour and may have cooked it in other ways as well. At this early stage of maize’s history, however, it didn’t represent a major component of their diet. This would change by the 12th century, when maize cultivation became vital to the Inca Empire’s rise and subsequent expansion across Peru.

Corn was first domesticated from a wild grass in Mexico nearly 9,000 years ago, according to study co-author Dolores Piperno, a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. It then made its way across Central and South America, where hundreds of distinct maize types—including the ancestors of sweet corn, which many people eat today—arose. The cobs and other corn scraps found at Paredones and Huaca Prieta indicate a diversity of kernel shapes and colors, a sign that this process was already in full swing.

“Our results show that only a few thousand years [after its domestication] corn arrived in South America where its evolution into different varieties that are now common in the Andean region began,” Piperno said. “This evidence further indicates that in many areas corn arrived before pots did and that early experimentation with corn as a food was not dependent on the presence of pottery.”

The discovery described in the study suggests that popcorn came about 1,000 years earlier than previously thought. It also represents a rare example of early maize remains; since the humid tropics between Central and South America are not conducive to the grain’s preservation, much of what we know about corn evolution comes from microscopic remnants. “Because there is so little data available from other places for this time period, the wealth of morphological information about the cobs and other corn remains at this early date is very important for understanding how corn became the crop we know today,” Piperno explained.

How did popcorn’s earliest addicts prepare the crunchy treat in a world without microwaves, stovetops or artificial butter? Since they didn’t even have ceramic pots at their disposal back then, chances are they roasted the cobs directly over coals or flames. Later inhabitants of Peru’s northern coast would perfect the technique by developing the world’s oldest known popper—a shallow vessel with a handle and a hole on top—around 300 A.D. The first popcorn machine made its debut 1,500 years later at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.


Popcorn: A “Pop” History

On her website ToriAvey.com, Tori Avey explores the story behind the food – why we eat what we eat, how the recipes of different cultures have evolved, and how yesterday’s recipes can inspire us in the kitchen today. Learn more about Tori and The History Kitchen.

First, the sound hits you — “pop, pop, pop” — slow at first, then a firestorm of kernels as they magically transform into billows of crunchy white deliciousness. Next the smell wafts throughout the room, tantalizing your nose and your taste buds. By the time your teeth crunch down on that first bite, you’re completely hooked. Popcorn is an irresistible treat. Try keeping a bowl to yourself during family movie night, or buying a small bucket at the movie theater. Before you know it, everyone is grabbing a handful. Popcorn is a simple, tasty treat on its own, but it also lends itself to a variety of toppings butter, sugar, cinnamon, caramel, a sprinkle of smoked paprika, even chocolate! Popcorn provides a perfect canvas for your sweet and salty cravings.

So what makes popcorn “pop”? The secret is in the kernel. Popcorn comes from a certain variety of maize that produces small kernels with a hard outer shell. These kernels cannot be chewed without a good chance of cracking your tooth. To get to the fluffy edible part, you must heat the kernel, which turns the moisture within into steam. When the outer shell has reached its pressure point it bursts, releasing the soft inner flake and creating what we recognize as popcorn.

The popcorn variety of maize was domesticated by Pre-Columbian indigenous peoples by 5000 B.C.E. It is a small and harder form of flint corn, most commonly found in white or yellow kernels. The stalks produce several ears at a time, though they are smaller and yield less corn than other maize varieties. The “pop” is not limited exclusively to this type of maize, but the flake of other types is smaller by comparison. Popcorn likely arrived in the American Southwest over 2500 years ago, but was not found growing east of the Mississippi until the early 1800s due to botanical and environmental factors. Today the Midwest is famous for its “Corn Belt,” but prior to the introduction of the steel plow during the 19 th century, soil conditions in that region were not suitable for growing corn.

Evidence of popcorn’s first “pop” did not appear until the 1820s, when it was sold throughout the eastern United States under the names Pearl or Nonpareil. Its popularity quickly began to spread throughout the South and by the 1840s popcorn had started to gain a foothold in America. Prestigious literary magazines like New York’s Knickerbocker and the Yale Literary Magazine began referencing popcorn. By 1848, the word “popcorn” was included in John Russell Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms. Bartlett claimed that the name was derived from “the noise it makes on bursting open.”

One of the earliest recipes for popping corn came from Daniel Browne during the 1840s. His method required one to “Take a grill, a half pint, or more of Valparaiso or Pop Corn, and put in a frying-pan, slightly buttered, or rubbed with lard. Hold the pan over a fire so as constantly to stir or shake the corn within, and in a few minutes each kernel will pop, or turn inside out.” He adds that salt or sugar can be added while the popcorn is still hot. The problem with this method was that butter tended to burn before reaching a high enough temperature and lard produced popcorn that was soaked with grease. It wasn’t until the second half of the nineteenth century that an efficient method for popping corn was developed. These newly invented “poppers” were made from boxes of tight wire gauze attached to a long handle they were meant to be held over an open flame. Poppers offered several benefits, including the ability to contain the popped kernels while also keeping hands away from an exposed flame. Over the years, many improvements were made to the original popper prototype, which made the snack even more accessible to the masses.

As popcorn grew in popularity, it began to appear in all sorts of variations. Louis Ruckheim came up with the first version of Cracker Jack, made from popcorn, peanuts and molasses, during the late 1890s. There are several different stories surrounding how the snack first got its name, but it undoubtedly derived from a popular slang term during the era, meaning “excellent” or “first rate.”

Popcorn’s mass appeal was brought to new heights thanks to movie theaters. Surprisingly, theater owners were not on board with popcorn sales in the beginning. They thought it might create an unnecessary nuisance in addition to requiring expensive changes, like installing outside vents to rid the building of smoky popcorn odors. Hawkers, seeing the potential in popcorn sales, took matters into their own hands and began selling popcorn and Cracker Jack while walking up and down the theater aisles. The Depression eventually changed the minds of theater owners, and they began to view it as a small luxury that patrons could afford. Unlike most treats, popcorn sales actually rose during the Depression. Instead of installing indoor concession areas, theaters charged outside vendors a dollar a day to sell popcorn from outdoor stands. In 1938 Glen W. Dickson, the owner of several theaters throughout the Midwest, began installing popcorn machines in the lobbies of his theaters. The construction changes were costly, but he recovered his investment quickly and his profits skyrocketed. The trend spread quickly. Can you imagine walking into a movie theater today without the scent of popcorn welcoming you inside? I sure can’t.

Recently the GMO debate has gained steam here in the U.S., particularly when it comes to corn. The majority of corn grown in the United States is genetically modified. According to Jeffrey Smith, a GMO expert, the popcorn variety of corn has not yet been genetically modified. This means there is no genetically modified popcorn currently available on the market. Interesting that after all of these years, we’re still enjoying popcorn grown from the same seeds our ancestors used.

Here are some tasty and seasonal popcorn recipe ideas from around the web!


Groundbreaking discovery of early human life in ancient Peru

James M. Adovasio, Ph.D., D.Sc., co-author of the study and a world acclaimed archaeologist at FAU's Harbor Branch, who is the foremost authority on ancient textiles and materials such as those used in basketry. Credit: Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

A-tisket, A-tasket. You can tell a lot from a basket. Especially if it comes from the ruins of an ancient civilization inhabited by humans nearly 15,000 years ago during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene ages.

An archeologist from Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute is among a team of scientists who made a groundbreaking discovery in Huaca Prieta in coastal Peru—home to one of the earliest and largest pyramids in South America. Hundreds of thousands of artifacts, including intricate and elaborate hand-woven baskets excavated between 2007 and 2013 in Huaca Prieta, reveal that early humans in that region were a lot more advanced than originally thought and had very complex social networks.

For decades, archeologists exploring Peru have argued about the origins and emergence of complex society in Peru. Did it first happen in the highlands with groups who were dependent on agriculture or did it happen along the coast with groups who were dependent on seafood? Evidence from the site indicates a more rapid development of cultural complexity along the Pacific coast than previously thought as published in Science Advances.

"The mounds of artifacts retrieved from Huaca Prieta include food remains, stone tools and other cultural features such as ornate baskets and textiles, which really raise questions about the pace of the development of early humans in that region and their level of knowledge and the technology they used to exploit resources from both the land and the sea," said James M. Adovasio, Ph.D., D.Sc., co-author of the study and a world acclaimed archaeologist at FAU's Harbor Branch, who is the foremost authority on ancient textiles and materials such as those used in basketry.

Basket remnants retrieved from the site were made from diverse materials including a local reed that is still used today by modern basket makers. More elaborate baskets included segments made from domesticated cotton and were colored using some of the oldest dyes known in the New World. Credit: Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

Among the artifacts excavated are tools used to capture deep-sea fish-like herring. The variety of hooks they used indicate the diversity of fishing that took place at that time and almost certainly the use of boats that could withstand rough waters. These ancient peoples managed to develop a very efficient means of extracting seaside resources and devised complex techniques to collect those resources. They also combined their exploitation of maritime economy with growing crops like chili pepper, squash, avocado and some form of a medicinal plant on land in a way that produced a large economic surplus.

"These strings of events that we have uncovered demonstrate that these people had a remarkable capacity to utilize different types of food resources, which led to a larger society size and everything that goes along with it such as the emergence of bureaucracy and highly organized religion," said Adovasio.

Advosasio's focus of the excavation was on the extensive collection of basket remnants retrieved from the site, which were made from diverse materials including a local reed that is still used today by modern basket makers. More elaborate baskets included segments made from domesticated cotton and were colored using some of the oldest dyes known in the New World.

Simple one-sided stone tools used for cutting and scraping were found at the sites. Researchers estimate they are 13,500 to 15,000 years old. Credit: Tom Dillehay

"To make these complicated textiles and baskets indicates that there was a standardized or organized manufacturing process in place and that all of these artifacts were much fancier than they needed to be for that time period," said Adovasio. "Like so many of the materials that were excavated, even the baskets reflect a level of complexity that signals a more sophisticated society as well as the desire for and a means for showing social stature. All of these things together tell us that these early humans were engaged in very complicated social relationships with each other and that these fancy objects all bespeak that kind of social messaging."

The late archeologist Junius B. Bird was the first to excavate Huaca Prieta in the late 1940s after World War II and his original collection is housed in the American Museum of Natural History in New York. This latest excavation is only the second one to take place at this site, but this time using state-of-the-art archeological technology. This recent excavation took approximately six years to complete and included a total of 32 excavation units and trenches, 32 test pits, and 80 geological cores that were placed on, around and between the Huaca Prieta and Paredones mounds as well as other sites. These artifacts are now housed in a museum in Lima, Peru.


Page 1: The Early History Of Popcorn, The Indigenous Snack Of the Americas

CAPSULE REPORT: This is Page 1 of a four-page article on the history of popcorn, up through modern popcorn flavors and recipes. Click on the black links below to visit other pages.

Overview

Indigenous to Mesoamerica, popcorn is now a popular snack food all over the world. In the U.S., approximately 17.3 billion quarts of popcorn are consumed each year. Sweet-and salty kettle corn is the category&rsquos fastest-growing flavor.

As one of America&rsquos indigenous snack foods, popcorn has always been a part of our lives. It&rsquos not only a household snack but it’s ubiquitous in recreation&mdashat amusement parks, circuses, fairs, sporting events, and at every movie theatre. It&rsquos hard to imagine a time and occasion when we don&rsquot have the crunchy popped kernels to munch on.

Origin Of Our Favorite Popped Snack

The oldest popcorn known to date was discovered in 1948 by anthropologist Herbert Dick and botanist Earle Smith in the &ldquoBat Cave&rdquo in west central New Mexico. The popcorn ears, which ranged from 1/2 inch to 2 inches long, are carbon-dated to be more than 5,600 years old.

Archaeologists deduce that popcorn was first made by throwing corn kernels on sizzling hot stones tended over a campfire, or onto heated sand, causing the kernels to pop.

It was not eaten as a snack food: The corn was sifted and then pounded into a fine, powdery meal and mixed with water.

This same cooking technique was used by the early Colonists, who mixed ground popcorn with milk and ate it for breakfast as a kind of cereal.

A fourth century C.E. Zapotec funeral urn found in Mexico depicts a maize god with symbols representing primitive popcorn in his headdress.

Ancient popcorn poppers, shallow vessels with a hole on the top and a single handle, have been found on the northern coast of Peru and date back to about 300 C.E. Peruvian Indians called the popcorn pisancalla.

A 1,000 year old popped kernel of popcorn was found in a dry cave inhabited by predecessors of the Pueblo Indian in southwest Utah. Native Americans flavored popcorn with herbs and spices.

Popcorn Reaches Europeans

Popcorn was introduced to Europeans via exploration of the New World.

Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes first learned of it during his 1519 of what is now Mexico.

He cataloged in his travel journals that the Aztecs used the popped corn, or momochitl, as decoration for ceremonial wreaths, necklaces and ornaments on the statues of their gods.

A few decades earlier, in the late 15th century, Christopher Columbus had also noted that the Native Americans made popcorn corsages and headdresses for dance rituals.

They sold them as mementos to his crew!

Around 1612, French explorers in the Great Lakes region documented use of popcorn by the Iroquois Indians, who popped corn in pottery using hot sand.

The pot filled with sand was placed over a campfire, and the kernels were mixed in to pop. The explorers also reported that during an Iroquois dinner, popcorn soup and popcorn beer were consumed.


Study suggests ancient Peruvians ɺte popcorn'

Researchers say corncobs found at an ancient site in Peru suggest that the inhabitants used them for making flour and popcorn.

Scientists from Washington's Natural History Museum say the oldest corncobs they found dated from 4700BC.

They are the earliest ever discovered in South America.

The curator of New World archaeology at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, Dolores Piperno, says maize was first domesticated in Mexico nearly 9,000 years ago from a wild grass.

Ms Piperno says that her team's research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that only a few thousand years later maize arrived in South America, where it evolved into different varieties now common in the Andean regions.

Her team discovered the maize in the archaeological sites of Paredones and Huaca Prieta.

"This evidence further indicated that in many areas corn arrived before pots did, and that early experimentation with corn as a food was not dependent on the presence of pottery," Ms Piperno explained.

She says that at the time, though, maize was not yet an important part of their diet.


11 of the Oldest Foods and Drinks Ever Discovered

In this day and age, the diverse array of products on supermarket shelves is often taken for granted. The Founding Fathers never got to enjoy sliced bread (introduced in 1928), nor peanut butter (invented in its modern form in the late 19th century). Eel pie and roast beaver tail, on the other hand, were often consumed by early American colonists.

Travel back even further in time and it becomes difficult to imagine what the ancient Romans and Egyptians may have eaten. But archaeological findings have given us some idea of what was served for dinner hundreds and even thousands of years ago—and perhaps surprisingly, some of the foods aren't all that different from what we eat today. Here are a few of the oldest once-edible items ever discovered.

1. ANTARCTIC FRUITCAKE

Fruitcake may be a holiday staple, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who actually enjoys eating this nutty, fruity confection. British explorer Robert Falcon Scott was apparently an exception. An almost-edible fruitcake, believed to have been abandoned by Scott during the British Antarctic Expedition of 1910 to 1913, was rediscovered on the frigid continent over 100 years later. Back then, fruitcake was a popular food in England, and the cold climes may have led to an extra appreciation for its high fat and sugar content. Sadly, Scott never got the chance to savor the sweet treat. He died of starvation and exposure while attempting to become the first person to reach the South Pole in 1912. As for the century-old cake, it was in “excellent condition” inside a corroded tin when it was found by the Antarctic Heritage Trust in 2017 during an excavation of the historic Cape Adare hut that Scott once used for shelter.

2. EGYPTIAN TOMB CHEESE

The pharaohs may not curse you for consuming ancient cheese found in the tomb of Ptahmes during a 2013-14 excavation, but you’d probably wind up with a nasty case of brucellosis—an infectious disease caused by eating unpasteurized dairy products. Strains of the bacteria were found on the cheese residue, which dates back some 3200 years and is the first known example of cheese in ancient Egypt. It’s thought to contain sheep and goat milk, but the taste would likely leave a lot to be desired. Professor Paul Kindstedt, who is something of an expert on the history of cheese, told The New York Times that this particular product would probably taste “really, really acidy.”

3. WORLD'S OLDEST WINE

A Georgian wine cup dating back to 600-700 BCE. Georges Gobet, AFP/Getty Images

Roughly 6000 years before Jesus was said to have turned water into wine, people in the present-day nation of Georgia were concocting their own fermented grape juice. The art of winemaking was previously thought to have been invented in what is now Iran around 5000 BCE, but prehistoric pottery shards found near the Georgian capital of Tbilisi last year debunked that theory. A chemical analysis revealed that the clay pieces contained traces of citric acid, grape pollen, and even signs of prehistoric fruit flies, leading researchers to theorize that the clay pieces once formed decorative vats used to hold vast quantities of vino (about 400 bottles worth).

4. BOG BUTTER

In 2009, peat workers in Ireland recovered 77 pounds of butter from an oak barrel that had been dumped in a bog and forgotten for 3000 years. Considering that it was such a big batch of butter, historians believe it was made by the community and then submerged in water to preserve it or hide it from thieves. The butter turned a whitish color over the course of three millennia, but otherwise remained remarkably intact. This delicacy isn’t available for sampling at your local supermarket, though. "It's a national treasure," National Museum of Ireland conservator Carol Smith told reporters. "You can't be going hacking bits of it off for your toast!" Shortly after its discovery, it was brought to the National Museum for safekeeping, presumably out of reach of any would-be butter bandits.

5. FLOOD NOODLES

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of noodle varieties in China alone. But before the advent of wheat or rice noodles, one of the first kinds ever documented in the country—and the world—was a bowl of 4000-year-old millet noodles discovered at the Lajia archaeological site along the Yellow River. It’s believed that an earthquake and subsequent flood caused a hapless diner to abandon his meal, leaving the bowl overturned on the ground for millennia. The helping of thin, long noodles had been sealed off, and was found beneath 10 feet of sediment. This finding also suggests that noodles originated in Asia rather than Europe. "Our data demonstrate that noodles were probably initially made from species of domesticated grasses native to China," Professor Houyuan Lu told BBC News. "This is in sharp contrast to modern Chinese noodles or Italian pasta which are mostly made of wheat today."

6. PROTO-PITA

The stone fireplace where the bread was found Alexis Pantos, University of Copenhagen

In July 2018, in a stone fireplace in Jordan's Black Desert, archaeologists unearthed the oldest piece of bread ever discovered. The 14,400-year-old flatbread looked a little like a pita, except it was made from wild cereals similar to barley, einkorn, and oats. Tubers from an aquatic plant were another key ingredient, reportedly lending the bread a gritty texture and salty taste—so you probably wouldn’t want to pair it with hummus and bring it to your next potluck party.

7. SHIPWRECKED SALAD DRESSING

The contents of a jar recovered from an ancient shipwreck in the Aegean Sea wouldn’t seem out of place in a modern Mediterranean recipe. Discovered in 2004 off the coast of the Greek island Chios, the sunken ship dates back to 350 BCE—a time when the Roman Republic and Athenian Empire ruled the region. The contents of the ship were recovered in 2006 and analyzed the following year, at which time archaeologists learned that one of the amphoras (a type of jar used by ancient Greeks and Romans) contained olive oil mixed with oregano. Indeed, it’s a recipe designed to stand the test of time. “If you go up into the hills of Greece today, the older generation of women know that adding oregano, thyme, or sage not just flavors the oil, but helps preserve it longer," maritime archaeologist Brendan Foley told LiveScience.

8. EVIDENCE OF PRIMITIVE POPCORN

Who doesn’t love popcorn and a movie? Thanks to the discovery of corn microfossils and an analysis of ancient corn cobs, husks, tassels, and stalks found in present-day Peru, we now know that this snack has been a favorite indulgence for thousands of years, long before the movie industry capitalized on its salty, buttery goodness. People in what is now Peru were eating popcorn and other corn-based foods up to 6700 years ago, and archaeologists believe it may have been considered a delicacy in their culture.

9. CENTURY-OLD CHOCOLATE

A 116-year-old tin of chocolate from Scotland just might be the world’s oldest chocolate still in existence. The collectible was specially created to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII on June 26, 1902, and in a remarkable show of willpower, the young girl who received these chocolates did not eat a single piece. Instead, she kept them until she was an adult and handed the chocolates down to her daughter, who continued the tradition by passing them on to her daughter. Now, it's probably a little too late to enjoy them—the confections are somewhat shriveled and discolored. They were ultimately handed over to the St. Andrews Preservation Trust in 2008 for conservation.

10. CHINESE BONE SOUP

STR/AFP/Getty Images

Venture just beyond the ancient Chinese city of Xian—home to the Terracotta Warriors—and you’ll arrive at another sacred destination (for foodies, at least). A bronze cooking vessel containing a once-steaming helping of bone broth was found in a tomb near the former Chinese capital of Xian in 2010. Construction workers had been excavating the site as part of a local airport’s expansion project, and naturally, they were surprised when they found 2400-year-old soup underground. The vessel still contained bones, and the finding was lauded by researchers as “the first discovery of bone soup in Chinese archaeological history.” The tomb likely belonged to a low-ranking military officer or member of China’s land-owning class, according to archaeologists.

11. BURIED BEEF JERKY

We may think of beef jerky as a modern snack that’s best enjoyed on road trips or camping excursions, but different varieties of dried and preserved meat have been enjoyed around the world throughout history, from ancient Egypt to Rome to the Incan empire. Perhaps unsurprisingly, early Chinese civilizations had their own version of the snack, too. Much like the bone soup discovery, 2000-year-old beef jerky was unearthed from a tomb in the village of Wanli during an excavation project that started in 2009. Over the millennia, it turned a less-than-appetizing shade of dark green due to the carbonization—but it hadn’t shrunk one bit, proving that it had been dried prior to being placed in the tomb.


Ancient Popcorn Found—Made 2,000 Years Earlier Than Thought in Peru

The puffed grain was likely an occasional snack, archaeologist says.

Just in time for National Popcorn Day, a new study says that people in what's now Peru were eating the snack 2,000 years earlier than thought.

Coastal peoples were preparing corn-based foods up to 6,700 years ago, according to analysis of ancient corncobs, husks, tassels, and stalks recently unearthed at the Paredones and Huaca Prieta archaeological sites on Peru's northern coast.

Previously, evidence of corn as a food before about 5,000 years ago had mostly come from what are called microfossils—microscopic remains that do not offer information on the cobs' sizes and shapes.

But the newfound corn remains revealed a lot, via radiocarbon dating and other tests. For instance, the oldest cobs can be identified as popcorn, said study co-author Dolores Piperno, curator of New World archaeology at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and emerita staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

The people who lived at Paredones and Huaca Prieta would've cooked corn several ways: Wrapping a cob (in an as yet undetermined material) and resting it on coals, roasting a cob directly over a flame, or cooking a cob in an earthen oven, Piperno said.

In this culture, corn was likely a delicacy or a minor supplement to the diet—archaeological evidence shows they did not eat it in large numbers.

Ancient Farmers Experimented With Corn

Corn was first domesticated in Mexico about 9,000 years ago from a wild grass called teosinte, according to Piperno, whose research appears this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A few thousand years later, corn was brought to South America, where farmers bred the plant crop into hundreds of varieties, she added. (See pictures of modern agriculture.)

Indeed, what surprised Piperno most about the new research was the diversity of corn-from cob shapes to kernel colors—discovered in the newfound remains.


Popcorn Popularity

The popularity is like the act of popping itself: slow at first, with a few booms, followed by a firestorm of kernels exploding into delightful puffs of air and starch.

By the mid 1800s, it was a prevalent snack food because of the entertainment value of its popping process. In 1885, Charles Cretor invented the first steam-powered popcorn maker. This allowed vendors to sell the snack at outdoor sporting events, circuses and fairs, a large advantage over the potato chip, which needed to be made in small batches inside a kitchen. Street vendors took advantage of popcorn’s appealing aroma to boost sales. The only place popcorn wasn’t available? Inside movie theaters. Imagine an audience full of popcorn eaters, chomping away while watching a silent movie! Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Most popcorn sold during this time was white because yellow corn wasn’t commercially grown and cost twice as much. However, popcorn vendors preferred yellow corn, which popped more, causing more volume for less seed. The yellow tint also gave the impression of a butter coating. The public started refusing the white variety at markets, requesting “movie popcorn.”

By 1930, nearly 90 million people every week went to the movies. Movie theater owners’ eyes glazed over with dollar signs, as patrons came to the theater with street popcorn in hand. The release of talkies and sound movies also persuaded owners to allow the crunchy snack into theaters.

At first, owners leased space to vendors in the foyer or on the street in front of the theater. By 1945, newer theaters contained dedicated areas for popcorn to be made and sold. At this time, more than half of the popcorn consumed in America was eaten at movie theaters. Rhodora Collins/DeKalb County Farm Bureau

In 1946, engineer Percy Spencer conducted experiments at Raytheon Corp. with a magnetron. After discovering that a chocolate bar melted nearby, he experimented with other foods. When corn kernels were close, they popped, and the creation of microwave popcorn led to the invention of the microwave. The first commercial microwave measured 6 feet tall, weighed 750 pounds and cost $5,000 at the time (nearly $70,000 in 2017 currency). In the 1970s and ’80s, counter-sized microwaves became widely available.

Today, Americans consume 14 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually, or about 43 quarts per person. Seventy percent is eaten in homes, while 30 percent is eaten in places such as theaters, stadiums and schools.


HISTORY OF POPCORN

Popcorn, which is also called ‘popping corn’, is a special type of corn that expands from the kernel and puffs up when heated. Popcorn is able to pop because its kernels have a hard moisture-sealed hull and dense starchy innards.

When the Kernel is heated, pressure starts to build up within the kernel, and eventually there is a small pop which results in popcorn.

Popcorn has been used by humans for over 5,000 years. In fact, the oldest popcorn ever found was discovered in central New Mexico in the “Bat Cave”. These ancient corn kernels are thought to be about 5,600 years old.

Also kernels have been found in tombs in Peru, these ancient kernels of popcorn were so well preserved that they can still pop.

In fact, Archaeologists have found 80,000-year-old corn pollen below Mexico City, so corn has been used for a very long time, by us humans.

Today, popcorn is typically thought of as a snack food, but popcorn was once a popular breakfast food and was grounded and had with milk or cream.

Popcorn’s availability to the masses increased rapidly in the 1890s when Charles Cretors’ invented of the popcorn maker. Charles Cretor owned a candy store in Chicago, during this time he created a number of steam powered machines for roasting nuts. He also used these machines and technology to pop the corn kernels and applied the technology to the corn kernels. From here we saw the advent of popcorn street vendors in high traffic areas selling their freshly popped corn.

Australian Popcorn Growers

There are around 20 popcorn growers in Australia. Growing popcorn can be difficult, and there are a number of challenges that the growers face. The biggest is quality control, making sure that no dirt or stones get picked up in the harvest. Timing in terms of harvesting the kernels is also critical in delivering a premium product to producers. It’s all about timing, making sure that the kernels have the right moisture content so they can pop. The optimum moisture content is between 13 and 14%.


1 The World&rsquos Oldest Noodles

In China, noodles have been a standard food for thousands of years. Until 2005, the earliest mention of noodles came from a nearly 2,000-year-old text from the early Han dynasty.

But when archaeologists went to Lajia, a small community in northwestern China destroyed by an earthquake 4,000 years ago, they discovered an overturned clay bowl 3 meters (10 ft) below ground. The bowl contained a pile of well-preserved noodles, making them the oldest noodles in the world.

The noodles were thin, yellow, and around 50 centimeters (20 in) long. They looked like the traditional noodle, lamian, and were created from millet, which was a standard part of the Chinese diet at the time.

Gordon Gora is a struggling author who is desperately trying to make it. He is working on several projects, but until he finishes one, he will write for Listverse for his bread and butter. You can write him at [email protected] .


Watch the video: POPCORN. How Its Made


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