Here’s a little tune by Cliffie Stone that took the 14th spot on the music charts on this day, August 20, in 1955:
Salt and butter’s ready
And the fire is hot
But seems like
I’m just too pooped to pop
And I ain’t playin’ possum
I’m too pooped to pop
And I do want to blossom
Don’t like the bottom
Want to get up on top
Iowa’s the state
That’s where I was born
I really truly came
From a fine ear of corn
My Mama and my Papa
Were a wonderful crop
You should have seen them
Blow up when they
Put they put them in the pot
The oldest evidence of popcorn was found in New Mexico’s Bat Cave, where about 6 of the 125 kernels were found to be partially or fully popped. They were dated to be about 5,600 years old, when agricultural cave dwellers inhabited the site.
One thousand year old popcorn grains and popped popcorn were found in Peru and Utah, respectively.
A Maize god with popcorn on its headdress was included on a funerary urn from 300 A.C.E. belonging to the Zapotec civilization, which lived in the Mexican state we know now as Oaxaca.
Popcorn was used as decoration, sustenance, and offerings to the gods by Native Americans throughout North, Central and South America.
After the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs and the English colonists’ introduction to native American foods, popcorn was steadily incorporated into European and American cuisine.
In his 16th century account, Franciscan priest Father Bernardino de Sahagun wrote about the Aztec’s worshipping the god who protected fishermen:
“They scattered before him parched corn, called momochitl, a kind of corn which bursts when parched and discloses its contents and makes itself look like a very white flower; they said these were hailstones given to the god of water.”
Colonists quickly adopted the popped corn as a breakfast food, often served with cream and sugar.
In modern times, the snack resurfaced as a favorite during the Great Depression, when struggling families could still afford the luxury of a $0.05 or $0.10 bag of popcorn.
“History and Legends of Popcorn, Cracker Jacks & Popcorn Balls.” Accessed 19 August 2012.
“Popcorn: Ingrained in America’s Agricultural History.” Accessed 19 August 2012.