America loves popcorn, and in particular, gourmet popcorn. Gourmet popcorn comes in a wide variety of flavors, which is part of what makes it so popular, and is often given as a gift around the holidays and for birthdays. Gourmet popcorn is only part of the overall popcorn consumption in the United States, where it is estimated that the average person consumes around forty two quarts of popcorn in just one year and where nearly a billion pounds of popcorn are grown and manufactured over the same span of time.
Though only around 30% of all the popcorn, gourmet popcorn or otherwise, that is consumed in the United States is consumed outside of the home, it is mostly consumed in places like movie theaters and stadiums. In fact, there are few of us who have not enjoyed movie theater popcorn at some point in our lives (many of us at many points in our lives) and it has been a popular movie theater staple since the depression-era 1930s, when it was became an often consumed snack because it was so inexpensive to make.
Popcorn (though maybe not all variety of gourmet popcorn flavors) has been around nearly as long as humans themselves, remaining a popular snack since it was first discovered in Mexico as many as 5,600 years ago. The reasons for popcorn’s enduring popularity are many. First, as in the case of gourmet popcorn, it is highly customizable. Popcorn can be dressed up in many ways with different seasonings as well as combined with ingredients in other dishes, such as popcorn balls. Flavored popcorn like kettle corn has proved to be a popular alternative to traditionally flavored popcorn with butter and salt. Popcorn is also a popular snack because it is filling, but low in calories. In fact, five cups of plain popcorn – which is considered to be a serving – have a total of less than two hundred calories and even provide the vast majority of necessary intake of whole grains for most diets. Popcorn has also been found to be high in polyphenols, which is a type of antidioxidant that is typically found in a number of nuts as well as vegetables. In just one serving of popcron, around five cups of it, there is 300 mg of polyphenols.
Popcorn, including specialty popcorn varieties like gourmet popcorn and kettle corn, has been incredibly successful for nearly the entire time it’s been around. Since the Great Depression, popcorn has been a popular snack in the United States, but its popularity predates even that by thousands of years.