Who doesn’t like popcorn? Raise your hand. You can’t. Because you do. It’s salty, crunchy, filling, nutritious, contains a reasonable amount of protein, lots of fiber and cheap. All good reasons to love popcorn. The snack is everywhere you go. Nothing says love like popcorn. Kids always smile when they eat it and popcorn is usually associated with some form of entertainment. The statuette for the MTV Awards is a Bronzed Popcorn Tub. How can something so idolized not be good?
Those of you who remember Drive-In Movies might recall the concession breaks with the animated popcorn and hot dog walking across the screen, followed closely by soda. And how about Jiffy Pop? How many times did you ruin a batch? My Jiffy Pop always tasted like tin foil. Maybe I was eating the packaging.
The popularity of popcorn in modern times began in the 1890s through the Great Depression. Even though families were suffering during the Depression years, the affordability of popcorn, at 5 or 10 cents a bag, was within reach. Most businesses were going belly-up, yet popcorn flourished. There is a story often cited in popcorn-related writings of an Oklahoma banker who lost everything, and then bought a popcorn machine and started a business close to a theater. His popcorn sales made it possible for him to buy back his farms.
World War II brought with it a sugar shortage in the U. S., so popcorn got a charge from the lack of candy. Americans ate three times more popcorn than usual.
But in the 1950s television started taking the families. People stopped going to movies and as a result, less popcorn was being consumed. But the people realized television was kind of like the movies, only smaller, and they started wanting popcorn at home. Enter Jiffy Pop and all the other versions of home-popped ecstasy.
Then came the microwave, and now we are hooked. I loved going through the office about two hours after lunch. I smelled popcorn. That distinctive smell. You know immediately, “Someone’s making popcorn.” Heads pop up over cubicles, in search of the culprit. The goal is to snatch a few kernels if offered. If not, grab it when they look away. But get some.
The first use of the microwave oven in the 1940s was to cook popcorn. It probably tasted lousy then, but popcorn has been so perfected over the decades, that Americans today consume 14 billion quarts each year. That’s 43 quarts per American. That’s a lot of fiber. Good for the paper industry.
I have to go. The popcorn’s done.
Bake My Fish