Today we celebrate Popcorn Day for a type of corn that expands from the kernel and puffs up when heated. Pressure builds within the kernel, and a small explosion (or “pop”) is the end result. Some strains of corn are now cultivated specifically as popping corn. Unpopped popcorn is considered nonperishable and will last indefinitely if stored in ideal conditions.
Corn was first domesticated in Mexico 9,000 years ago, and many historians believe it is the first corn that humans even knew about. Popcorn’s accessibility increased rapidly in the 1890s with Charles Cretors’ invention of the popcorn maker. Cretors, a Chicago candy-store owner, created a number of steam-powered machines for roasting nuts and applied the technology to the corn kernels. By the turn of the century, Cretors had created and deployed street carts equipped with steam-powered popcorn makers.
During the Great Depression, popcorn was fairly inexpensive at 5–10 cents a bag and became popular. Thus, while other businesses failed, the popcorn business thrived and became a source of income for many struggling farmers, including the Redenbacher family, namesake of the famous popcorn brand. During World War II, sugar rations diminished candy production, and Americans compensated by eating three times as much popcorn as they had before.
The snack was popular at theaters, much to the initial displeasure of many of the theater owners, who thought it distracted from the films. Their minds eventually changed, however, and in 1938 a Midwestern theater owner installed popcorn machines in the lobbies of his theaters: the venture was a financial success and the trend soon spread.
The term ‘popped corn’ first appeared in the 1948 edition of Dictionary of Americanisms. In 1970, Orville Redenbacher’s namesake brand of popcorn was launched. In 1981, General Mills received the first patent for a microwave popcorn bag, with popcorn consumption seeing a sharp increase by tens of thousands of pounds in the years following. (from Wikipedia and cute-calendar.com)