National Popcorn Day

·2 min read

January 19 is National Popcorn day! This snack food is ubiquitous to many forms of entertainment, like movies (of course!), sporting events, midways, and outdoor festivals, to name a few. Popcorn is one of those snack foods that seems to be a huge hit with just about everybody, although people might have some very different preferences in the types of popcorn flavours that they enjoy. Some love the sweeter side of things such as caramel or toffee-coated popcorn, some like to keep it simple with butter and salt, and some are much more adventurous. Give the Chicago mix a try, a mixture of caramel corn and cheddar cheese flavoured popcorn (it might sound strange, but try it. Seriously!). Or satisfy a more “refined” palette by tossing your popcorn with truffle oil and parmesan cheese.

Contrary to what various cartoon characters have taught us over the years, not every type of corn will “pop” in the way that produces popcorn. There is only one variety of corn that “pops” this way, Zea Mays Everta. However, there are around 100 strains of this type with different characteristics.

What makes the Zea Mays Everta variety so unique? The crucial aspects are an extremely rigid and almost nonporous outer shell on the kernel and a bit of water with soft granules of starch on the inside. As the popcorn kernel is heated to the right temperature, the water trapped inside turns to steam and the granules of starch gelatinize. As the kernel continues to get hotter, the pressure within it builds until it finally bursts and essentially turns inside out. The gelatinized starch rapidly expands when this happens, then cools and solidifies almost instantly to form the “popped” corn we know and love.

Popcorn has been around for a long time; archeologists have found popcorn remnants that were about 3,600 years old.

You can celebrate National popcorn by enjoying your favourite popcorn snacks. Make some popcorn balls, have a movie marathon complete with hot buttered popcorn, or even try making some popcorn crafts for something different.

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette