Thursday, October 25, 2012

National Popcorn Poppin' Month

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By Terry Orr

Life on the Internet can be a mixed blessing and deep dark hole of frustration.  Today, I want to share one of those unique and super resources that you will visit frequently if you’re a popcorn lover like me.  October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, so named because it is when popcorn is harvested in the Midwest. 

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According to Wikipedia - Popcorn was first discovered thousands of years ago by the Guatemalans. It is one of the oldest forms of corn: evidence of popcorn from 3600 BCE was found in New Mexico and even earlier evidence dating to perhaps as early as 4700 BCE was found in Peru.

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Fun Popcorn Facts (from www.popcorn.org)
  • Americans consume some 16 billion quarts of this whole grain, good-for-you treat. That’s 51 quarts per man, woman, and child.
  • Compared to most snack foods, popcorn is low in calories. Air-popped popcorn has only 31 calories per cup. Oil-popped is only 55 per cup.
  • Popcorn is a type of maize (or corn), a member of the grass family, and is scientifically known as Zea mays everta.
  • Of the 6 types of maize/corn—pod, sweet, flour, dent, flint, and popcorn—only popcorn pops.
  • Popcorn is a whole grain. It is made up of three components: the germ, endosperm, and pericarp (also known as the hull).
  • Popcorn needs between 13.5-14% moisture to pop.
  • Popcorn differs from other types of maize/corn in that is has a thicker pericarp/hull. The hull allows pressure from the heated water to build and eventually bursts open. The inside starch becomes gelatinous while being heated; when the hull bursts, the gelatinized starch spills out and cools, giving it its familiar popcorn shape.
  • Most U.S. popcorn is grown in the Midwest, primarily in Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri.
  • Many people believe the acres of corn they see in the Midwest during growing season could be picked and eaten for dinner, or dried and popped. In fact, those acres are typically field corn, which is used largely for livestock feed, and differs from both sweet corn and popcorn.
  • The peak period for popcorn sales for home consumption is in the fall.
  • Most popcorn comes in two basic shapes when it's popped: snowflake and mushroom. Snowflake is used in movie theaters and ballparks because it looks and pops bigger. Mushroom is used for candy confections because it doesn't crumble.
  • Popping popcorn is one of the number one uses for microwave ovens. Most microwave ovens have a "popcorn" control button.
  • "Popability" is popcorn lingo that refers to the percentage of kernels that pop.
  • There is no such thing as “hull-less” popcorn. All popcorn needs a hull in order to pop. Some varieties of popcorn have been bred so the hull shatters upon popping, making it appear to be hull-less.
  • How high popcorn kernels can pop? Up to 3 feet in the air.
  • The world’s largest popcorn ball was created by volunteers in Sac City, Iowa in February, 2009.  It weighed 5,000 lbs., stood over 8 ft. tall, and measured 28.8 ft. in circumference.
  • If you made a trail of popcorn from New York City to Los Angeles, you would need more than 352,028,160 popped kernels!

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When thinking of popcorn, often I think of the ending of the 1985 movie “Real Genius” with Val Kilmer and others. 

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Popcorn.org has a wonderful free download of Popcorn recipes – 142 pages worth.  I’ll be printing it shortly and trying out new recipes.

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References and Links:


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