National Popcorn day is celebrated annually on the 19th January and provides the perfect opportunity to reflect and appreciate such a timeless snack.
It is believed that popcorn has been around as early as 3600 BC, as archaeologists have been able to discover popcorn remnants in Mexico which date back this far. Historians suggest there is evidence that popcorn played an integral part to South American lives and was valued because people believed that it improves fertility.
Popcorn was first popped over the stove in homes during the 19th century and in the 1890s, Charles Creton, a Chicago sweet shop owner, developed the popcorn maker. This helped popularise popcorn because it could be sold on the sides of streets to customers on the move, thus increasing its outreach. It was also popular because it was a cheap snack.
Loved by many, popcorn is one half of a timeless duo, one of the greatest romances time has endured: cinema and popcorn. It’s hard to imagine one without the other and has become a real tradition in cinematic culture. This partnership was originally pioneered in 1938 by the American Glen W Dickson. He was a theatre owner in Midwestern America and was the first person to install popcorn machines into his theatre lobby. After this experiment was successful, popcorn machines began to spring up in theater lobbies across America. However, the combination of popcorn and cinema was not welcomed at first because theatre owners felt that the popcorn distracted customers from the film.
To make your own popcorn, all you really need is some popping corn and oil and the beauty of it is that you can flavor the popcorn in whatever way you like! Popcorn can be sweet or savoury as long as you coat it in something to help your chosen flavouring stick. You can even combine popcorn with some of your other favourite snacks to help create something really delicious – how about white chocolate and crushed Oreo popcorn?
Below is a basic popcorn recipe from Bon Appetit to help you cook up some of your own – remember you need a pan large enough for some growth because when the corn kernels pop, they expand!
(Makes Popcorn for 4 people)
- 1/2 Cup popcorn kernels
- 3 Tbsp Butter or Olive Oil
- Flavouring of your choice (you can combine the 2 for sweet and salty!)
- for sweet popcorn: 2 tsps caster sugar
- for salty popcorn: 1 tsp table salt
- Add 3 Tbsp. of oil to the pan.
- Put the pan over medium heat, pour in ½ cup popcorn kernels, stir to coat with oil and keep stirring occasionally until the kernels start to sizzle.
- Put the lid on the pan – raise heat halfway between medium and medium-high. Soon popping noises will emanate from the pot. Leave it to pop for a minute or two, then pick up the pot with the lid closed and shake it up and down. This is to prevent unpopped kernels!
- Let the popping continue, but if you see any tendrils of smoke escaping from under the lid, immediately lower heat to medium.
- When the popping has subsided to an eruption every couple of seconds, turn off the heat. Set the lid askew so that some steam can escape, because soggy pops are an abomination.
- After a minute of steam release, pour the popcorn onto a rimmed baking sheet, or your biggest, widest bowl. Immediately drizzle ¼ cup olive oil all over the popcorn. This needs to happen while it’s still hot, and then you have to toss thoroughly and with intention to coat the kernels with oil.
- If you’re more of a melted butter person, feel free to use that instead. The important thing to remember is that you need to add the fat—olive oil, coconut oil, butter—first, then add anything dry—spices, salt—and toss, toss, toss, otherwise the dry bits won’t have anything to stick to