What is Popcorn Made Of?

Andy Waters
Latest posts by Andy Waters (see all)

Ah, the scrumptious, smell of freshly cooked popcorn. Just the image of those fluffy balls is enough to make the mouth water. But what on earth is it made of?

Let’s face it, unless you happen to be a parrot, the idea of a sharp, tooth-cracking piece of maize isn’t exactly appetizing. Should you ever wonder how the unappealing appearance of a hard kernel can transform into a tantalizing treat worthy of offering the gods, read on.

This article explains exactly what popcorn is and how it came into existence. We look at the types of popcorn and the array of yummy, different varieties available.

Buying the right type of kernel and seasonings for you can turn your impulse buy a best-buy. Get all the must-know information about the enticing snack, discover a new flavor, and make your next movie night an extra-special occasion. Don’t forget to check out the final thoughts section, too!

What is Popcorn and What is it Made Of?

Popcorn is one of six types of corn, but with one fabulous difference. The cereal grain (known as Zea mays everta), is the only one with the ability to pop. Each popcorn kernel is a seed. Although there are many varieties of popcorn seed, they all originate from the same family.

The popcorn kernel consists of three components. These include the outer shell (known as the bran, hull, or pericarp), the endosperm and the germ. The endosperm is the middle layer and this is stores starchy water which feeds the germ (or seed embryo). The droplet of water contained in the kernel is the reason why popcorn can pop.

What Do Popcorn Kernels Look Like?

Although the conditions for growing popcorn are very similar to that of regular corn, a popcorn kernel has very different appearance. They can look small and pointed or be rounded.

Where is Popcorn Grown?

The U.S can take credit for growing most of the world’s supply of popcorn. It is mostly grown in America’s Corn Belt. The eight states that feature the production of this awesome snack are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio.

Popcorn Farming

Different strains of popcorn are made for specific purposes. Popcorn hybrids are produced especially for for various outcomes. There are certain types produced purely for the microwavable market, a type only grown for the popcorn you enjoy at the movies, and a type designed only for caramelizing products.

The list doesn’t end there. The huge demand for popcorn has paved the way for this type of hybrid farming practice.

Who Invented Popcorn? The Facts

Popcorn is one of the oldest types of corn in existence. In fact, it is so old, even fossils of popcorn have been unearthed by archaeologists. Charles Cretor, is often hailed as the inventor of popcorn. This is due to his invention of the mobile popcorn cart, in the late 1880s, in Chicago.

However, during an archaeological dig in Mexico, fossilized popped corn were discovered. These were over 5,000 years old. Furthermore, it is known that in popcorn was utilized in the Americas, over 10,000 years ago. This is obviously long before Charles was alive to seed the idea for his famous invention.

The Science Behind the Popcorn Pop

The droplet of water contained inside the kernel is the reason for this corn’s ability to pop. As it is cooked, the water evaporates and turns to steam. Pressure builds inside the hard shell, until eventually it pops. This is the secret behind creating one of the world’s most-loved treats.

Types of Popcorn

Popcorn kernels come in two types:

  • Mushroom – This ball-shaped popcorn is the larger of the two types, has a thicker density and is more sturdy. Given its rounder and stronger shape it has a larger surface area. This makes it the better type to flavor, as it is less easily broken during the stirring process.
  • Butterfly (or snowflake) – This popcorn gets its name from the irregular shapes that feature wing-like appearances. It is the lighter, fluffier, and more delicate popcorn of the two. This type achieves an irresistible crunch and it is the type you would buy at the movie theater.

The four colors of popcorn kernels include:

  1. Yellow popcorn kernel – this is the most affordable and also the most popular type of kernel.
  2. White popcorn kernel – this type creates a very neutral, plain popcorn flavor.
  3. Red popcorn kernels – these make smaller sizes of popped corn and are white.
  4. Blue popcorn kernels – .these are very similar to the red popcorn kernels.

Varieties of Popcorn

Of course, the healthy option is to cook your popcorn in a little vegetable oil on a stove top. This method creates a nutritious treat, but you may find yourself reaching for the salt or sugar (depending on your taste preference). And then, there’s the shop brands. Honestly, we truly are spoiled for choice.

The food industry has honed in on the highly sought-after, time and taste-honored snack. There exist many varieties of popcorn, each with their own delicious twist. Here are some of the most popular varieties of pre-popped corn.

  1. Classic salted popcorn – An all-time favorite.
  2. Classic sweet popcorn – another timeless treat

Then there are others….

  • BBQ flavored popcorn
  • Double chocolate flavored popcorn
  • Cookies and cream flavored popcorn

Anyone else’s mouth watering yet?

Final Thoughts

Whomever first created this amazing treat deserves an award for such a genius invention. There’s no denying that popcorn is the snack of choice for many. The main takeaway about this incredible food is that it can be served, oozing with a mountain of flavors.

But, it can also be prepared as a tasty, yet healthy alternative, One thing is certain, popcorn will never go out of style.