by Stef Jantz, Food Columnist
Whether you’re at the movie theater or walking the grounds of a fair, popcorn has been an American favorite for decades. Believe it or not, popcorn is said to date back to the first Thanksgiving in 1621.
Archeologists even found evidence in 1,000 year old Peruvian tombs, so it’s been around for quite a while.
Of course, settlers found that some kernels were unable to pop but it didn’t stop them from continuing to keep experimenting.
Although, evidence of the first pop didn’t appear until the 1820s. It was sold throughout the eastern part of the states after the 1820s but prior to that, it was mainly grown in the southwest due to botanical and environmental factors.
By the 1840s, popcorn grew popular in the south and soon became notorious in America. In the mid-1890s, the first popcorn machine was created by Charles Cretors, an entrepreneur of Chicago. Cretors was a candy shop owner who had a peanut roaster in his store but was unhappy with it.
After messing around with the ma- chine for a few years, he designed a whole new one that was powered by steam and he used it for roasting nuts and popping popcorn. The steam ensured that all the kernels were evenly popped and could be popped in desired seasonings.
By 1900, Cretors introduced a horse drawn carriage with the popcorn machine on the back, thus creating more lovers of the kernel on the go. But, how was the first recipe created?
I’m glad you asked. Going back to the 1840s when popcorn became famous, Daniel Browne created a method easily used at home to pop the light and tasty treat.
Using a grill, frying pan, and either butter or lard, those beautiful kernels would turn inside out.
He said that adding salt or sugar to the hot mess was an easy way to season it, but the downfall was that the butter would tend to burn before the process was complete.
Later in the nineteenth century, a better method was created that was made of boxes of tight wire gauze with a long handle and could be held over an open flame.
Over the years the method began to improve of course, and variations were created. Cracker Jack incoming!
In the 1890s a version of Cracker Jack came into play that coated those popped kernels in peanuts and molasses.
Popping corn wasn’t a big thing in theaters since it created a lot of smoke, so salesmen would walk up and down the aisle selling Cracker Jack boxes to moviegoers.
With the Depression peaking around the corner, movie theater owners charged vendors a dollar a day to sell regular popcorn outside the doors.
However, in 1938 a wonderful and brilliant man by the name of Glen Dickson, owner of multiple theaters in the Midwest, took the gamble to build pop- corn concessions in the lobbies of the theaters.
The rest they say is history.
You can do so much with popcorn that it’s insane. Popcorn balls, caramel corn, trail mix, grits, and hundreds of seasonings you can use and combine to create that perfect snack.
I found some pretty delicious recipes so get online and search for that perfect POP!