A History of Popcorn
PUBLISHED: Friday, September 25, 2020

A History of Popcorn

In our Fourth of July entry, we looked at the history of popcorn in the United States. That post touched on some of the larger stories behind our favorite snack, but it’s worth a more in-depth look. Archaeologists have found definitive historical evidence of popcorn across North and South America, some of it dating back 4,000 years or more. Interestingly, the ways that ancient humans used popcorn don’t differ all that much from the ways we use it today.

Indigenous peoples of North and South America, principally the Aztec and Pueblo, used popcorn for decorative purposes long before modern humans— but in shocking similar ways. The Aztec people, for example, strung popcorn garlands and wore them as part of a ceremonial dress, predating popcorn-and-cranberry Christmas tree garlands by several hundred years (at least). Of course, there is also clear evidence that ancient indigenous people also ate popcorn. The fact that the ways humans use popcorn have changed very little in thousands of years puts it in a category with the lever or the wheel— we more-or-less got it right on the first attempt.

It’s also worth noting that a number of archaeologists believe that popcorn was the first variety of maize to be purposefully cultivated by ancient humans across the Americas. If that is the case, then it makes popcorn an indispensable part of the social and economic growth of a dozen or more countries. If we had never learned to cultivate popcorn, then sweet corns and flour corns that are a dietary staple across North and South America wouldn’t exist. The field corn that we feed to farm animals wouldn’t exist, which means our ranching techniques and capacities might not be what they are today.

Eating popcorn really is a unique way to celebrate the heritage of our nation and our continent. At Home Theater Express, our customer service representatives are available to help you down your path to popcorn perfection in the comfort of your own home.