The Story Of The Humble Popcorn

Corn pollen greater than 80,000 years outdated was present in Mexico. Correct popcorn was identified in China, Sumatra, and India for a minimum of 5000 years. Popped popcorn and kernels 5600 years outdated were discovered within the “Bat Cave” in New Mexico in 1948-1950. Popcorn kernels – ready to pop – have been unearthed in historical Peruvian tombs. In a cave is southern Utah, fluffy, fresh trying, white popcorn was dated to 1000 years ago.

Popcorn was utilized by the Aztecs and Indians as a decorative motif in headdresses, necklaces, and ornaments on statues of divinities. In the 16th century, each Hernando Cortes (in Mexico) and Christopher Columbus (in the West Indies) described these unusual uses of the snack. Father Bernardino de Sahagun (1499-1590), a Franciscan priest with deep interest in Mexican tradition, described a ritual in honor of the Aztec gods of fisheries:

“They scattered earlier than him parched corn, known as momochitl, a form of corn which bursts when parched and discloses its contents and makes itself look like a very white flower; they stated these had been hailstones given to the god of water.”

French explorers in the early seventeenth century reported that the Iroquois Indians within the Nice Lakes area drank popcorn beer and ate popcorn soup. In both 1621, or in 1630, popcorn was introduced as a gift by the Indian Quadequina, brother of Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag tribe, to the colonists in Plymouth, Massachusetts at their first Thanksgiving dinner within the new land.

This may be an apocryphal story but, in any case, it could not have been popcorn as we all know it today. An oiled ear was held on a stick over an open fire and the popped kernels could be chewed off. Popcorn later served as a morning cereal, eaten with cream or milk. The colonists known as it “popped corn”, “parching corn”, or “rice corn”.

Most of the world’s popcorn (“prairie gold”) is produced in Nebraska, Iowa and Indiana, in the United States. The kernel is a seed containing a plant embryo and its mushy, starchy food. The seed is protected by a hard shell. Heating the kernel converts water held within the seed into pressurized steam which causes the kernel to pop and the starch to broaden to 40 times its unique size.

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