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National Popcorn Day (January 19)

Check out the weird holiday National Popcorn Day on January 19. Learn the history of popcorn, as well as get ideas on how to celebrate.

One weird holiday on January 19 is National Popcorn Day. Check out the other weird January holidays!

History of National Popcorn Day

Believe it or not, popcorn has been around for thousands of years! It is believed that corn whose kernels could be popped were first cultivated in Mexico in 5000 BC. Only one variety of corn is able to become popcorn: Zea mays everta.

As early as the 16th century AD, the Aztecs used popcorn to make headresses that were worn during ceremonies to honor their god of maize and fertility, Tlaloc. In 1948, small heads of Zea mays everta were discovered in the Bat Cave of New Mexico by Herbert Dick and Earle Smith.

The first popcorn maker was discovered in Peru and dates back to 400 AD. This popcorn maker was a utensil with holes and a handle. In Don Hernán Cortés gets his first sight of popcorn when he invades Mexico and comes into contact with the Aztecs. 

Charles Cretor, a candy-store owner, was the man who invented a machine for popping corn with steam. About that same time, Louise Ruckheim added peanuts and molasses to create the Cracker Jack.

Popcorn didn’t become popular in the United States until around the 1900s. It was called “Pearls” at the time and was sold on street corners. Movie theater owners were originally against popcorn being sold on their premises, but the Great Depression made it so popcorn was one of the few luxuries people could afford. Glen W. Dickson was the first to put in the expense of installing a popcorn machine in his theaters, and he quickly recouped his losses.

When VCRs were invented, popcorn sales plummeted. It wasn’t until the invention of the microwave and microwave popcorn (developed by Percy Spencer and patented by General Mills) that it became profitable once again.

In 1988, The Calumet City Star, as well as other publications, announced National Popcorn Day to fall on January 31st, probably to fall in line with families throwing Super Bowl parties.

No one is really sure why it is moved, but in 2003, a newspaper in Brownfield, Texas, gave the first indication that National Popcorn Day was moved to January 19, where it still remains. Oddly enough, National Popcorn Month takes place in October.

Today, Americans consume 13 billion quarts of popcorn a year, more than any other country in the world. Most popcorn produced is grown in the United States, and Nebraska produces the most corn in popcorn production.

The most popular popcorn flavors are:

  1. Butter and salted (like at the movie theater)
  2. Cheddar cheese
  3. Carmel flavored
  4. Butter only (no salt)
  5. Plain
  6. Kettle corn

Ideas for National Popcorn Day

Here are TONS of delicious varieties of popcorn for you to try on this weird holiday!

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