Explore popcorn’s origin story and its 16th Century Aztec Indian connection

Learn more about its intriguing past and exciting journey from being a decorative element in the 16th century to the beloved movie-time snack it is today.

Updated on Sep 13, 2022 12:15 PM IST  |  35.2K
A beloved movie-time snack

Popcorn has continually been an economical snack, but the smell alone brings back memorable moments of heading to the cinema with friends to see a recent film. But long before this sweet delight was packaged and displayed in department stores; it was in Mexico's grassy fields that corn first appeared. Continue reading to learn more about its intriguing past and exciting journey from being a decorative element in the 16th century to the beloved movie-time snack it is today.

A field of corn

Earliest popped corn

At the start of the 1600’s, Aztec Indians of Mexico employed popped corn as a food staple as well as an adornment for ritualistic headdresses. Additionally, it was used to adorn the sculptures of their idols, especially Tlaloc, the deity of monsoon and fertility, with garlands and other decorations. Native Americans from Peru used to burn a particular variety of maize till it burst in 1650. They used it as a dessert and called it pisancalla. But this humble treat has long since evolved.

A head of corn

The Great Depression and popcorn in cinemas

Right before the Great Depression in the 1890s, this snack was quite widespread. In the past, street merchants would trail the crowds while operating steam- or fuel poppers via expos, gardens, and fairs. Sales of popcorn climbed throughout the Great Depression, in contrast to other sweets. In fact, the popped corn surfaced in theatres during this time, as it was low cost for both customers and cinema owners. Huge profits were soon realised making it a trend back then.

Being served as a breakfast snack

Today, popcorn is seen as a tuck, even if it was previously a common breakfast item. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, poppers were consumed similarly to how we consume cereal now, making it ahead of its time and likely serving as a model for future breakfast cereals.

Dried corn kernels

For Festive Holidays

With Halloween, Thanksgiving, Easter, and especially X-mas, popcorn grew immensely popular in America during the holiday season because it captivated and especially delighted the kids. Popcorn made a great Christmas meal, decoration, and gift due to its low cost. Victorian families frequently used elaborate decorations crafted from popcorn balls to decorate their Christmas trees, doors, and fireplace mantels. Popcorn balls were one of the most well-liked sweets and were frequently presented as gifts in the late 19th and early 20th century!

Well, today it is a beloved movie snack and offered in a lot of varieties from cheese and tomato flavors to caramel and even dark chocolate and rum. But its interesting journey makes for an enthralling read.

Also Read: The fascinating origin story of tasty French Fries and their Belgium connection

Credits: Popcorn Org

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