Celebrate National Popcorn Day!

By Michelle Plummer

The origins of this holiday are unknown. We have not found any information or documentation to confirm this is a true “National” day. But, don’t let that pop (burst) your bubble.  It’s a day to celebrate healthy (until you load it with salt and butter), and addicting popcorn.

Strangely, National Popcorn Day is in January, yet National Popcorn Month is October. So actually we have 32 great days to enjoy this delicious and fun to eat snack.  According to tradition, it is celebrated on January 19th each year. There is some suggestion that Popcorn Day may, at one point, have been tied to the Superbowl. That may just be wishful talk.

On National Popcorn Day, we suggest you pop up some fresh popcorn, kick back and enjoy!   Here are some reasons to enjoy these little nuggest of goodness in January:  this is the month where we pay the plastic piper for the extravagance of the Christmas season, and popcorn is economical and a great fast food.  It can also be a filling and relatively low-calorie choice for those of us attempting to shed those “yes-mom-I’ll-have-some-eggnog-and-cookie” pounds that came with the holidays.

Our country eats an estimated 4 billion gallons of popcorn a year, or 13 gallons per person. Sure, it usually contains some oil from the popping, some butter that has been drizzled over top, but the corn itself is a whole grain. It comes in two configurations: snowflake and mushroom. Snowflake, the kind you get at the movie theater, is puffier, while mushroom, used for popcorn balls and other candies, is less likely to crumble.

Simply put, there is nothing not to love about popcorn. For starters, it smells simply divine when a bag is first opened; most folks can’t help but dip their nose into the bag to take a great sniff. Popcorn is crunchy. It is flavorful. You can toss individual kernels into the air and try to catch them in your mouth for spontaneous displays of silliness. It makes movies, ballgames, and even the circus more entertaining. It is an incredibly sociable snack. Popcorn never fails to put a smile on the face of those who grab a handful.

The folklore of some Native American tribes told of spirits who lived inside each kernel of popcorn. The spirits were quiet and content to live on their own — but grew angry if their houses were heated. The hotter their homes became, the angrier they’d get — shaking the kernels until the heat was too much. Finally they would burst out of their homes and into the air as a disgruntled puff of steam.

Each kernel of popcorn does contain a small drop of water stored inside a circle of soft starch. (That’s why popcorn needs to contain 13.5 percent to 14 percent moisture.) The soft starch is surrounded by the kernel’s hard outer surface.

As the kernel heats up, the water begins to expand, and pressure builds against the hard starch. Eventually, this hard surface gives way, causing the popcorn to explode.

As it explodes, the soft starch inside the popcorn becomes inflated and bursts, turning the kernel inside out. The steam inside the kernel is released, and the popcorn is popped!

Information obtained from: http://www.popcorn.org



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