If you're like me, once in awhile, nothing hits the spot or silences that growling tummy better than a bowl of fresh, hot buttered popcorn. There's something about the smell of freshly made popcorn that just makes your mouth water, gets you thinking about an ice cold soda to go along with it...ohhh, be still my growling stomach!
Stop and think about it for a moment what's not to like about popcorn? It is really a very easy snack to prepare, just as easy to enjoy, and there's very little guilt about enjoying it!
So why am I writing about popcorn? October, along with many other observances, is also National Popcorn Poppin' Month. While every day is a great day for enjoying America's favorite whole grain snack, October is designated as the official National Popcorn Poppin' Month because of the popcorn harvest that takes place each fall in the Midwest.
Here in Northwest Iowa, we are actually in the heart of the popcorn world, so to speak. Jolly Time Pop Corn, one of those brand names you always remember, is headquartered in Sioux City. And then there is Snappy brand popcorn, which hails from down in Breda. And, it isn't all that uncommon to find farmers around the area raising popcorn in their fields, keeping this wonderful food coming to consumers around the globe. And, making the world a little smaller, the Emmetsburg FFA?raised some popcorn of their own and have been selling it of late as a fundraiser.
So in the spirit of National Popcorn Poppin' Month, how about a few facts about the tasty treat.
- Americans consume some 16 billion quarts of popcorn each year. That's 51 quarts per man, woman, and child.
- If you made a trail of popcorn from New York City to Los Angeles, you would need more than 352,028,160 popped kernels.
- Archaeological evidence suggests pre-Colombian Americans were popping popcorn as early as 4,700 B.C.
- One of the ancient ways to pop corn was to heat sand in a fire and stir kernels of popcorn in when the sand was fully heated.
- Popcorn was integral to early 16th century Aztec Indian ceremonies.
- During the Depression, popcorn at five or ten cents a bag was one of the few luxuries down-and-out families could afford.
- Popcorn is naturally low in calories and gluten-free a cup of air-popped popcorn contains just 35 calories.
Everyone has a memory with popcorn I've got a couple myself. Growing up in Graettinger, I was fortunate to live in a community that to this day, still has a popcorn stand, located on the corner of North Cedar Street and Robbins Avenue in downtown. I can remember as a youth, stopping at the popcorn stand on Saturday evenings when the stores were open with my parents, getting a bag of freshly popped popcorn, with salt and butter, to munch on as we went home to the farm.
The popcorn stand has changed little over the years, some fresh paint, new windows, and a new owner, but that stand still cranks out fresh popcorn during the summer months on Thursday nights.
The second memory....well, it involves a basketball game one evening at a school that will remain nameless, and a batch of popcorn that burnt so badly it set off the smoke and fire alarms in the middle of a game, causing a few minutes delay to air out the gym.
While the popcorn stand has gone the way of many childhood memories, popcorn has stood the test of time as a comfort food. Today, you can season it with all kinds of flavors, you can cheese it, carmel it, marshmallow it, or just eat it up with butter and salt.
Nope, a bag of popcorn is a pretty simple treat one can give themselves, not only to curb a hunger pang, but to bring a smile and perhaps a memory of a relaxing moment to ease a stressful day.