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Senior Calli Townsend stands next to her corn crops. Calli Townsend | Col­legian

There’s a reason an entire month is ded­i­cated to popping popcorn. It’s the best snack, not just because of its history, great taste, and many flavor options, but also because it’s the most accom­mo­dating, least con­tro­versial snack out there. 

October is National Popcorn Poppin’ month. I learned that this summer when I was doing some research after I planted my own little popcorn patch and wanted to learn more about the crop I was growing. When I came across this exciting news, I ran to the kitchen to tell my mom, then pro­ceeded to post about it on social media. Everybody needs to know about this won­derful, month-long holiday. 

Even though pil­grims sharing popcorn at the first Thanks­giving has been proven to be a myth, popcorn has still played a large part in American history and in our culture today. According to popcorn.org, the average American eats 172 cups of popcorn per year — that’s 672 billion cups nationwide! 

Popcorn became popular in the U.S. in the mid-1800s as street vendors pushed their carts around, serving cus­tomers at parks and fairs. It became a staple at social gath­erings and in the home as a late-night snack. When the Great Depression hit, not only did the popcorn industry thrive, it even saved some busi­nesses. 

Movie the­aters started low­ering ticket prices and selling popcorn to save their profits during the Great Depression. Fam­ilies could still afford this snack and con­sidered it a treat. There’s even a story of a banker who went broke but managed to buy a popcorn popper, start a business, and buy back what he had lost. Appar­ently, popcorn is a great business oppor­tunity. 

The popcorn industry didn’t quit booming after the Depression. This ancient snack con­tinues to grow in demand. In 2016, the global popcorn market was valued at more than $9 million, with an expected growth rate of 7.6% by 2023, reaching $15 million, according to Allied Market Research. 

Despite its large market value, popcorn is still great for college stu­dents on a budget. For $1.68, you can buy a 32-ounce bag of kernels and make 135 cups. That’s lit­erally one cent per cup. And if you’re willing to splurge, you can add dif­ferent sea­sonings. Ket­tlecorn, white cheddar, normal cheddar, ranch, you name it, there’s probably a sea­soning. I’ve even made pizza popcorn before. 

I’ve been making popcorn for the varsity women’s track team Bible study for the last year and it’s the perfect snack to accom­modate everyone’s diets as well. Popcorn is non-GMO, gluten-free, and low-calorie. I even make it with coconut oil for a healthier twist. 

I’m so excited to try even more flavors with my very own, home-grown popcorn after I harvest it later this month. I spent all summer watching the corn stalks grow, waiting for the ears to mature, kind of like how you wait in front of the microwave waiting for the popcorn to pop. 

I’m also super excited because popcorn harvest coin­cides with National Popcorn Poppin’ month. Everything’s coming together quite nicely.

Whether you’re antic­i­pating the growth of your crop or the kernels to pop, it’s all exciting. Exciting might be a bit of an exag­ger­ation, but to me, it’s not. There’s some­thing about popcorn that’s so simple yet so complex that it’s fas­ci­nating. A tiny little kernel that pops into a snack — truly amazing.

Because of these reasons and more, popcorn ought to be cel­e­brated. So many of my favorite mem­ories include this snack: family movie nights, making popcorn balls at birthday parties, vis­iting popcorn stores on vaca­tions, and late-night sleep­overs with friends. 

Happy National Popcorn Poppin’ month! Be sure to pop some corn.

 

Calli Townsend is a senior majoring in sports man­agement. She is the sports editor of the Col­legian.