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A Brief History of Popcorn

by Kayleigh Ventrone |

At Scamps Toffee, August is POPS Month! We’re kicking off our celebration by exploring the history of popcorn. How did this POPular treat become one of the most beloved snacks in America? Grab a bag of POPS and let’s find out!

It’s the nostalgic smell of movie theaters that evokes memories of family movie nights...popcorn is a classic American snack. Americans consume 15 billion quarts of popcorn annually! How did this simple snack gain mainstream popularity?

Let’s get poppin’!

Scholars agree that popcorn originated in the Americas, however they are uncertain of exactly who began popping corn. It is likely that popped corn has been consumed for 4,000-5,000 years! The oldest evidence of popcorn dates back 3600 BC. This ancient piece of popcorn was found in caves in Mexico. Researchers have even discovered 1,000 year old pieces of popcorn that had been preserved in a tomb in Peru that can still be popped today! 

Becoming POPular

Popcorn is an integral part of many Native American cultures, and began to gain popularity among other American populations in the 19th century. In the early 1800s, Americans began making their own popcorn recipes, absolutely enamored by how the kernels popped! It was quite entertaining (and still is 😜 ). In 1885 popcorn’s popularity skyrocketed with the invention of the steam-powered popcorn maker! Charles Creto invented a machine to pop popcorn in large batches without a kitchen, making it the perfect on-the-go snack to sell at outdoor events, such as fairs. 

Movie Magic

Despite popcorn becoming a fan-favorite mobile snack, movie theaters refused to allow the snack into their buildings. In the 1920s, movie theaters were attempting to emulate the feeling of live performance theatres, with lush red velvet carpets and curtains. Popcorn was simply not classy enough, according to the theaters. However, the Great Depression soon hit and they needed a new tactic to get people to watch movies: selling popcorn. Theaters let their patrons purchase popcorn from vendors outside. Ever since, the popularity of popcorn at movie theaters exploded, and it’s been a staple ever since! 

Let’s stay home!

After WW2, in-home TVs became popular, and fewer people ventured to the movies, so popcorn companies began marketing the treat as a  snack for in-home movie nights as well! Finally in the 1980s, the microwave became a staple in most American households and microwave popcorn was invented thanks to Percy Spencer, a man who used WW2 microwave technology to develop the recipe for microwave popcorn!

Popcorn Today

Popcorn has been a popular snack for a majority of North American history, and it’s no surprise that it’s maintained its popularity. Today, many people enjoy a variety of popcorn; kettle corn, peanut butter popcorn, cheesy popcorn, or even Scamps Toffee POPS with chocolate and toffee! It’s truly a classic snack that can be eaten anywhere at any time! What’s your favorite way to eat popcorn?

Happy POPS Month! Don’t forget to check out our seriously sweet deals happening in the month of August. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our email list, so you never miss out of a sale!