WHY EATING POPCORN IS LIKE SNACKING ON HISTORY
January 19th is National Popcorn Day! How did this tiny snack become synonymous with movie theaters and party snacks?
- •Movie theaters initially resisted selling popcorn.Owners didn't want to install vents to get rid of the popcorn smell, so fans took matters into their own hands by selling popcorn and Cracker Jack while walking up and down the theater aisles.
- •The name has changed over the years.Popcorn was sold in the United States in the late 1820s under the names Pearl or Nonpareil.
- •The name didn't stick until the 1840s.While prestigious literary magazines like the Yale Literary Magazine began referencing popcorn, it wasn't until 1848 that John Russell Bartlett’s Dictionary of Americanisms declared it a word. He claimed that the name was derived from “the noise it makes on bursting open.”
- •Cracker Jack was the first variation on popcorn.Louis Ruckheim made Cracker Jack in the late 1890s from popcorn, peanuts and molasses. The origin of the name is debated, but it undoubtedly derived from a popular slang term during the era, meaning “excellent” or “first rate.”
- •The Southwest can lay claim to popcorn's origins in America.Popcorn likely arrived in the American Southwest over 2500 years ago, but was not found growing east of the Mississippi until the early 1800s due to botanical and environmental factors.
- •Learn more about the history of popcorn on The History Kitchen: http://to.pbs.org/1ZKo5MF