A fall treat
According to the National Board of Popcorn Growers fall is the season when popcorn is enjoyed the most. In spite of the fact that the National Day of Popcorn is in January, the fall is the season for making popcorn. The National Board has a website that is based in Chicago. On that site there are plenty of activities.
It is said that popcorn first came on the scene about 9000 years ago in what is now Mexico. The term popcorn first appeared in John Russell Bartlett’s Americanisms in the mid-1800s.
The popcorn maker was invented during the late part of the nineteenth century. That of course, would not be the electric version since electricity was not around at that time.
Popcorn became a popular snack during the Depression years. It was an inexpensive snack going for 5 – 10 cents a package. I was around in the 1950s and you could still get a bag of popcorn for 10 cents. In fact, you could see a movie for about a quarter, then buy popcorn and a candy bar for under a half-dollar.
The name Orville Redenbacker is synonymous with popcorn. It was the Redenbacker family who built their business around popcorn. They had popcorn by the bag to pop as well as popcorn for the microwave. They launched their brand of popcorn in 1970. They received a patent for the microwave popcorn bag through General Mills.
The states that claim to be the “Popcorn Growing Capital of the World” are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Nebraska, Kentucky, Michigan, and Missouri.
In the popcorn industry a popped kernel is known as a “flake”. There are two types of flakes — mushroom and snowflake. The outer hull of the popcorn is strong and impervious to moisture. As the oil and water inside the kernel are heated they turn into pressurized steam. The hull ruptures as the individual molecules move around and expand.
As far as nutrition goes popcorn is high in fiber and antioxidants. It is low in calories and fat and it is free of sugar and sodium. However, to add flavor large amounts of fat, sugar, and sodium are often added taking away the healthy aspect of popcorn.
I remember the domed bag that was put out by Jolly Time that you popped on the stove. It was fun to watch that bag expand. Of course it was great to eat as well. I also remember the bag with the stick of shortening on one side and the popcorn with salt on the other. You put the shortening in the pan and when it was hot you added the popcorn and a lid. I remember trying to make popcorn in my first apartment. It was already to go but I could not find the correct lid for the pan. By the time I had it there was popcorn all over the floor.
When we got married we received an electric popper for a wedding gift. We used that popper so much that eventually the coils that heated it burned off. I remember purchasing a popper that you held in the fire. We used that when we had our Franklin stove in the kitchen.
I have two hot air poppers. One is electric and one is used in the microwave. The one that goes in the microwave does not take any shortening. You just pour the popcorn in the dish and let the microwave pop it. If you want to put butter on it you may still add it. The electric model has a butter attachment but it does not work well. We just melt some butter and pour it on.
I also have some packages to use in the microwave. I have the snack size and the family size. It depends who is here which one I use. I have also tried just putting popcorn in a plain brown bag and sticking it in the microwave. That works too but you have to listen to the popping to stop it in time so you do not scorch the bag.
My granddaughter used the hot air popper a lot when she came here after school. She set it up and popped a bunch. She always shared what she made with her brother.
It is said that Americans consume 13 billion quarts of popcorn annually. More than half of that is eaten as a treat at movie theaters. The price has risen astronomically. It spoils a twenty-dollar bill and then some to go to the movies these days.
Caramel corn is another way to eat popcorn. Many people make caramel corn around Halloween. It is still alright to give out homemade treats in our neck of the woods.
The recipe I have for caramel corn was given to me by a lady from our church. I think she made some for one of our gatherings. Everyone enjoyed it and I asked her for the recipe. Now each time I make it I think of Grace.
15 c. popped corn, ™ c. Karo syrup
1 c. brown sugar, ¢ tsp. salt
¢ c. butter, ¢ tsp. soda
In a saucepan combine brown sugar, Karo syrup, butter, and salt. Heat until it boils. Cook for 5 min. Remove from heat. Stir in soda. Pour over popped corn and mix it through. Bake in a 200 degree oven for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes.
This stuff is better than Cracker Jack!
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.