How Long Has Popcorn Been Around?
Whether you like it buttery and salty, prefer it coated in caramel or cheese, or love sweet kettle corn, popcorn is something nearly everyone can get behind, but how long has this versatile snack been around?
Popcorn is thought to be one of the oldest foods and has been around for way longer than we might've thought. Especially considering corn has been grown and harvested for thousands of years, way before we were dousing it in butter and serving it at movie theatres.
The oldest popcorn known to date was found in New Mexico. In 1948, small heads of the zea mays everta were discovered by Herbert Dick and Earle Smith in a dry cave known as the 'bat cave.' Carbon dating estimated the kernels to be about 5,600 years old!
Only 1 variety of corn can pop in the perfect way: zea mays everta. It looks very similar to a typical corn kernel; however this variety is the only one which has the ability to pop under heat and pressure.
Evidence of popcorn throughout Central and South America, particularly Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico, is strong. There are even funeral urns found in Mexico from 300 A.D decorated to "depict a maize god with popped kernels adorning his headdress."
"Popcorn was integral to early 16th century Aztec Indian ceremonies ...as decoration for ceremonial headdresses, necklaces and ornaments on statues of their gods, including Tlaloc, the god of rain and fertility."
- via popcorn.org
It wasn't just popular in the Southwest, either. "French explorers who traveled to the new world discovered popcorn being made by the Iroquois Native Americans in the Great Lakes region," according to Popcorn For The People, indicating that even in the northern regions, popcorn was a popular food!