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MMMMM…Who Doesn’t Love Popcorn?

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Hey, Popcorn People!

Who doesn’t love that sound of pop…pop pop-pop popcorn popping while you prepare it on your stove top or in your air popper or microwave? It’s a wonderful, magical sound that signifies a treat is on its way! Today is National Popcorn Day which is a perfect day to prepare this interesting treat for yourself.

So before kitchen appliances were invented, people had never even heard of popcorn, popcornright?

WAY WRONG! Actually, along with a man named Percy Spencer, popcorn played quite a role in the invention of the microwave! It was an easy food on which to experiment—and hardly new!

People have been enjoying popcorn for about 4000 years! How did they prepare it without the modern ease of electric appliances? Well, one ancient method was to throw sand into a fire and then to stir in popcorn kernels after the sand was fully heated. If you enjoy bits of sand all over your popcorn, this is the way to go.

Among all the other types of corn, popcorn is the only one that will actually pop! Why does it do this? Because, unlike any other kind of corn, the hull of popcorn has got the necessary amount of thickness that allows itself to burst open when under pounds and pounds of pressure.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening inside the kernel during the burst. First of all, there is a small drop of water that is stored at the center of each popcorn kernel. The drop of water is surrounded by the kernel’s soft starch. The starch is then covered with the kernel’s hard, outer shell.

As the kernel gets heated up, the water inside starts expanding. At about 215° the water inside the kernel has turned to steam which then turns the starch into a kind of hot, gooey substance. As the heat arrives at about 350° the pressure inside the kernel will hit its limit and the hull bursts open. The gooey starch puffs out as it cools immediately after growing 40 to 50 times the original size of the kernel!

Click here to see kernels popping in slow motion!

Now that you know how it pops, maybe you’ll appreciate popcorn even more. From everyone here at Everything Summer Camp, Happy Popcorn Day! Pop some tonight and get ready for April 7, Caramel Popcorn Day!


- John
Posted in History Lessons


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