15 Oct 2014

Pop Goes the…Corn!

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We know candy corn is popular in October what with Halloween, but did you know that popcorn is featured in October, too? It is! In fact, October is National Popcorn Poppin’ Month.  Why October? Because the corn harvest takes place in the autumn in the US Midwest, and consequently the holiday month was celebrated in October on a grassroots level starting more than 30 years ago. In 1999 came the official declaration when then Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman proclaimed October National Popcorn Poppin’ Month.

You might be surprised to find out how much popcorn is consumed in the US every year. Care to venture a guess? Well, according to the website Popcorn , www.popcorn.org (yes, such a web address exists), “Americans consume some 16 billion quarts of popcorn each year…roughly 51 quarts per man, woman and child.”

Now that’s a lot of popcorn. We think of popcorn in partnership with entertainment – a staple for the movies, a treat at birthday parties, or a snack purchased at a carnival or amusement park cart. But somehow, the average comes out to be one quart per week for every American! It stands to reason that popcorn is not just for entertainment eats, but rather a semi-regular part of the Standard American Diet.

Corn is at least 9000 years old, domesticated in Mexico from a form of wild grass, and popcorn is about 4000-5000 years old.  While one might think that any corn kernels will work for popping corn, it’s not the case – the species must be just the right makeup to allow for the “explosion” resulting in the pop of the kernel.

In addition, not all popcorn is the same. You have your spherical-mushroom formations, your spider leg stretched-out types, and your scary-hair-day versions.  And that’s just the shapes. Couple the variant shapes with the rainbow of color choices as well as toppings, and you have yourself the spectrum of savory to sweet, buttery or plain. Have you yet had blueberry popcorn? Or what about Margarita, Parmesan-Garlic, or even Smores popcorn?

Popcorn is even touted as healthy, what with it being “whole grain” (when a corn kernel is inevitably whole grain), as well as “gluten-free” and, if you play your toppings right, “fat-free”.  It’s all in the way it’s prepared – certainly a toppings-free pop on a stove (not a microwave) has its nutritional qualities. However, once you add in the butter, caramel, and extra salt, chocolate or cheese, you have yourself a calorie-loaded treat as opposed to a somewhat nutritious guilt-free snack.  Just be careful not to have to say “pop goes the moderation.”

At Rockaway Care Center, popcorn is sometimes a feature at our entertainment events, out of enjoyment as well as nostalgia.  However you relate to popcorn, it is certainly a symbol of fun. So, be sure to take advantage of its “pop”ularity any way you’d like.


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