"Popcorn is a good diet food, because it is high in fiber and has few calories," says R.C. Anantheswaran, Ph.D., a Department of Food Science researcher at Pennsylvania State University.
The U.S. consumption of popcorn is 73 quarts per person, and 1 out of every 10 people are popcorn fanatics.
January 30th is National Popcorn
Popcorn is high in carbohydrates, and has more protein and iron than potato chips, ice cream cones, pretzels and soda crackers, according to The Popcorn Institute.
Microwave popcorn is convenient but usually high in fat--between 48 and 76 percent of its calories comes from the fat of added oil, compared with 5 percent in air-popped and 45 percent in oil-popped, says the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Low-fat microwave popcorns have 3 grams of fat or less per serving. The healthiest way to eat popcorn is to air-pop it. Some note of caution: If cooking microwave popcorn be careful opening the bags--they get very hot.
And parents should not give popcorn to children under 4 or 5. Its round shape and small size poses a choking risk. Make sure older children don't run and jump while they're eating popcorn, or they also could be in danger of choking.
By the time Europeans began settling in the "New World," popcorn and other corn types had spread to all Native American tribes in North and South America, except those in the extreme northern and southern areas of the continents. More than 700 types of popcorn were being grown, many extravagant poppers had been invented, and popcorn was worn in the hair and around the neck. There was even a widely consumed popcorn beer.
By the time Europeans began to settle in America, popcorn had spread to almost all Native American tribes. The English colonists were introduced to popcorn at the first Thanksgiving feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts, where one of the chief's brothers arrived with a goodwill gift of popped corn in a deerskin bag.
Colonial housewives served
popcorn with sugar and cream for breakfast -- the first
"puffed" breakfast cereal eaten by Europeans, and so was
born the breakfast cereal! Some
colonists popped corn using a cylinder of thin sheet-iron that
revolved on an axle in front of the fireplace like a squirrel cage.
At this point there were more than 700 varieties of popcorn.
One of the earliest ways to pop corn was to toast it over an open fire or even
throw the cob directly into the fire until it began to pop. American Indians
would pierce the center of the cob with a sharp stick then spread oil over the
corn and lay it near a fire, causing the kernel to pop. Another way was to use a
clay or metal cooking pot containing oil held over a fire, much like today. But
it wasn't until the 18th century, when popping in oil really began to take off,
that the results and taste produced became far superior to that of toasted
Native Americans would bring popcorn "snacks" to meetings with the English colonists as a token of goodwill during peace negotiations.