America’s favorite snackPublished 9:21pm Thursday, September 20, 2012
This is an attempt to tackle a new topic not discussed here before — food. Not just any or every kind of food, but a snack food.
Now, you know that today, eating snacks is getting a bad name. We are all becoming health conscious, and eating fast food is taking a bad rap. So I’ll not tackle a fast food restaurant, but fast food from your kitchen.
Anyone who has ever stepped into a movie theater or gone to a football game knows what the favorite snack food is — popcorn. The smell makes it irresistible.
Now, what is popcorn doing in this weekly historical column? Popcorn has been eaten for thousands of years. It is one of the oldest forms of corn from around 3600 B.C. When the English came to America in the 16th and 17th centuries, they learned about popcorn from the Native Americans.
My first recollection of popcorn was when it was made by my mother in an old pan with a lid over our kitchen stove. A little bit of oil or lard in the bottom of the pan and the lid held tightly on the top and the pan shuffled back and forth over the burner until popping started and then quit. Magically, out came a full pan of popped corn.
If you close your eyes, you can imagine the smell of corn popping. That’s the hook that entices everyone to buy a bag.
Nowadays, there are all sorts of devices for popping the corn. It can be popped in a paper bag in a microwave, or you can purchase it in a little foil pan and shake it over the fire. There are air poppers and popcorn machines.
The most desirable popped corn is large and light. If heated too quickly the steam in the outer layers can rupture the kernels causing a hard center. If heated too slowly it leads to unpopped kernels. Those that are left in the pan and didn’t pop are called “old maids.”
Popcorn is a healthy snack, but when you cover it with butter or salt it takes on a different life. A small bag of movie theater corn contains as much fat as three Big Macs.
Six localities in the Midwest claim to be the Popcorn Capital of the World: Ridgeway, Ill.; Valparaiso, Ind.; Van Buren, Ind.; Schaller, Iowa; Marion, Ohio; and North Loup, Neb. But we in this area know that Orville is the king of popcorn.
Popcorn can be flavored with many different flavors. One company advertises 200 flavors. Some of the more unusual are cheddar cheese, dill pickle, green apple, hot and spicy, chocolate drizzle, peach cobbler, pumpkin pie and margarita. There are flavors for everyone’s taste. I just like butter and salt.
This past weekend, I was at a wedding where popcorn was served at the reception. A beautifully decorated popcorn bar and bags to pick your own favorite flavor or a combination were a big attraction. They were delicious and the bags made it a take home favor.
Popcorn can be flavored with Jell-O. There are many recipes available, which create a variety of flavors. And of course at this time of year everyone is thinking popcorn balls. The dill pickle was one of my favorites as was the kettle corn.
You don’t have to go to the movies or a ball game to enjoy a big bowl of popcorn. Your ancestors have been enjoying it for years.
Tags: JoAnn Boepple