Pop History 101: How Popcorn Began

December 03, 2020

Pop History 101: How Popcorn Began

If you’ve come this far, chances are you love popcorn as much as we do, and that means you’re craving more information about everyone’s favorite snack sensation. We were curious about how popcorn got its start, so we did a little shucking and this is what we learned. If you enjoy this Pop History lesson, keep coming back for kernels of knowledge as we uncover more about popcorn’s delicious past. 


As any history buff can tell you, corn is an American staple and helped form indigenous American cultures from before the time of written histories. So who was the first person to think of heating it up and watching it go pop? It’s impossible to say. Incredibly, scientists have located individually popped kernels of corn in New Mexico that have been carbon dated and shown to be over 5,500 years old. Other archeologists found popcorn dating back nearly 1,000 years in a cave in Utah which was thought to be inhabited by members of the Pueblo nation. 


Even more evidence of prehistoric popcorn can be found in Central and South America. Archeologists have proven that Aztecs used popcorn to decorate and embellish their clothing, in addition to eating it. In Peru, kernels of popped corn have been dated back approximately 7,000 years, and in Mexico, evidence suggests that corn was being domesticated and consumed as many as 9,000 years ago. 


In fact, ancient popcorn poppers – shallow vessels with a hole in the top and a single handle – have been found on the north coast of Peru, dating back to about 300 AD. This suggests that popcorn may be one of mankind’s original snack foods! It’s amazing to think that when we sit down with a bowl of popcorn, we’re sharing in a human tradition that dates back thousands of years and connecting with our roots on the American continent in a surprisingly meaningful way.




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