Americans today consume 16 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year. The average American eats about 51 quarts (almost 13 gallons!)

According to the USDA, most of America's popcorn is grown in Nebraska and Indiana

History of Popcorn

13 gallons of popcorn per person per year!

Early Evidence of Popcorn

  • Archaeologists have found 80,000-year-old corn pollen in Mexico City. This pollen is almost exactly the same as modern popcorn pollen, suggesting that ancient people also used to consume popcorn. -
  • Almost 6,000 years ago, people in Peru began popping corn kernels. We know that because fossilized cobs were uncovered that were dated to 4,700 BC. -
  • In 1948, in a bat cave in Mexico, the oldest edible popcorn was found, dating to around 1,000 years old. The kernels could still be popped. -
  • In Utah, researchers found 1,000-year-old popcorn that still looked surprisingly fresh. -
  • Popcorn played a great part in the lives of ancient people in America. In Mexico, a 1,700-year-old urn was discovered, showing a corn god wearing a popcorn headdress. -
  • In 1519, Cortes got his first sight of popcorn when he invaded Mexico and came into contact with the Aztecs. Popcorn was not only an important food for the Aztecs, but also served as decorations for ceremonial purposes. -

Popularization of Popcorn

  • The increased use of an improved plow in the mid-1800s led to the widespread planting of corn in the United States. -
  • Popcorn as a breakfast cereal was consumed by Americans in the 1800s and generally consisted of popcorn with milk and a sweetener. -
  • Popcorn gained popularity in the United States from the 1890s through the Great Depression. Street vendors used to follow crowds around, pushing steam or gas-powered poppers through fairs, parks and expositions. -
  • In the early 1900s, Charles Cretors introduced the first large horse-drawn popcorn wagon, allowing customers to buy their popcorn anywhere. He also introduced the first electric popcorn machine. -
  • With the opening of movie theaters in 1912, popcorn had become an important part of the movie-going experience as movie theater attendance grew in the 1920. -
  • During the Great Depression (1929-1939), one of the few luxuries working families could afford was popcorn. While other businesses failed, the popcorn business thrived. -
  • During World War II, Americans ate 3 times more popcorn than usual, due to the lack of sugar available to make candy. -
  • During the early 1950s, with the growing popularity of television, popcorn consumption declined as attendance at movie theaters dropped off. It took a few years for the tradition of eating popcorn at home to take hold, particularly with the emergence of microwave popcorn. -
  • The explosive growth of farmersí markets in recent years is re-introducing old time kettle corn as a staple in the American diet. Americans today consume 16 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year. The average American eats about 51 quarts (almost 13 gallons!) -

Farmers Market Picture