10 fascinating things you didn't know about popcorn

You'll definitely have the munchies after reading this.

Image: Ladies Home Journal, 1972

What would movies and television be like without popcorn? The snack is synonymous with the moving picture, but that almost wasn't the case. For such a simple snack, popcorn has a long and interesting history. In honor of National Popcorn Day, here are some things you probably didn't know about your favorite nighttime munch.

1. Popcorn is a type of corn.

While most people associate popcorn with the puffed kernel, it's actually the name of the corn. There are five other types of corn - pod corn, flint corn, dent corn, flour corn and sweet corn. 

2. Popcorn is over 5,000 years old.

The snack wasn't invented for movie theaters. In fact, Native Americans cultivated the corn long before Christopher Columbus touched down. They even seasoned it with herbs and chili. Researchers in 1948 found an ear of popcorn in Mexico that dated back 5,000 years. 

3. Theaters originally banned popcorn.

Surprisingly enough, movies and popcorn did not go hand in hand at first. Movie theaters in the 1920s and 1930s were modeled after elegant theaters. Because popcorn can get messy, the owners thought the snack would damage the carpets and seating. 

Image credit: Flickr

4. Popcorn at the movies dates back to the Great Depression.

Although theater owners didn't like popcorn, there was no way they could avoid it. Popcorn and movies were both inexpensive during the Great Depression. When people kept showing up with the snack, the owners realized they could make it themselves and increase their profits. 

Image credit: YouTube

5. Popcorn sales declined when TVs became popular.

For the next 20 years, popcorn became synonymous with movie theaters. When the television was introduced to American families in the 1950s, fewer people went to the movies. At the time, popcorn was too complex to make at home. So because fewer people went to the movies, fewer people bought popcorn, causing a dip in sales. 

6. Orville Redenbacher was a real person.

Perhaps you think the name is just a brand, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Orville Redenbacher's passion in life was popcorn. He began making it when he was only 12 years old. 

Image credit: Who2 Biographies

7. Redenbacher paid someone to name his popcorn.

Orville Redenbacher and his partner originally wanted to call their popcorn "Redbow." However, an advertising agency convinced them to use Redenbacher's name to sell their popcorn. The advice cost them $13,000. 

Image credit: Pinterest

8. There is a festival for popcorn.

Every year, Valparaiso, Indiana, celebrates its native Orville Redenbacher by hosting a popcorn festival. There are tons of popcorn-related activities, like a run called the "Popcorn Panic" and a popcorn parade. 

Image credit: NWI.com

9. Six cities claim to be the popcorn capital of the world.

Valparaiso may have the popcorn festival, but it's not the only city to claim itself "Popcorn Capital of the World." Ridgway, Illinois; Van Buren, Indiana; Schaller, Iowa; Marion, Ohio; and North Loup, Nebraska also claim that distinction. 

10. It's a pretty healthy snack.

We've saved the best fact for last — in its purest form, popcorn is considered a healthy snack. Nutritionists recommend popping whole grain kernels and staying away from microwaveable varieties.

Now tell us — what show do you always watch while eating popcorn?

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