What Is Popcorn? Kernals and Popped Popcorn

What Even Is Popcorn?

Oct 10, 2023Thad Paul

As you open up a bag (or two, or three!) of delicious gourmet popcorn, you’ve probably thought to yourself, “What even IS popcorn? Where does it come from? Who invented it?” We here at Popped! Republic are no agricultural or historical experts, but what we do know is popcorn! So, we are here to answer some of the most common questions about this tasty treat we all love so much!



What Is Popcorn Made Of?

Popcorn is made of corn, the end. Ha! If only it were that simple! In truth, there are many different kinds of corn, all with their own unique purpose. When you’re enjoying corn on the cob, you’re eating sweet corn. When you’re dipping a tortilla chip into fresh guacamole, you’re eating a chip made from dent corn. But when you’re enjoying some of Popped! Republic's, well those are popcorn kernels! What makes popcorn different than the other kinds of corn (besides being the tastiest of them all) is the higher starch content in every kernel. The extra starch is what creates the white fluffiness of popcorn when it is combined with heat. Popcorn kernels have a hard outer shell that keeps the starch and moisture inside. That’s why they are a lot crunchier than traditional sweet corn!

Is Popcorn Natural or Manmade?

Popcorn is one of life’s greatest wonders. To this day, many ask the question of whether popcorn was something made by humans or found naturally in the wild. And the answer to this question is: yes and no! Popcorn kernels are made up of a combination of starch, water, and its hard seed coat. When a kernel is exposed to heat, the water and oils inside the seed start to heat up. Once the pressure inside builds up, the seed coat “pops” and the steam from inside the kernel combines with the kernel’s starch to create the fluffy, airy popcorn we know and love! Could this happen naturally in the wild, of course! A kernel becomes popped due to exposure to heat, and the science takes care of the rest. Is it a lot easier to toss kernels into a stovetop pan or air popper? Yes, it is. But is it even easier to order your favorite flavor of Popped! Republic already popped and ready to eat? You bet!


How Was Popcorn Discovered?

There are many origin stories out there of the world’s first popcorn, but most historians believe the first popcorn dates back to as old as 5,000 B.C.E. Now that is one old snack! The popped kernels were found in 1948 by a group of explorers searching through a cave in New Mexico. Popcorn has been found in other parts of America too, this time in a cave in Utah. Believed to be home to members of the Pueblo peoples, the popcorn kernels found were roughly 1,000 years old! These discoveries have been made all across the United States, as some explorers even found members of the Iroquois making popcorn in the Great Lakes region. Fun fact: the variety of maize that popcorn comes from was domesticated and grown by indigenous people groups even back then!

Who Figured Out Popcorn?

We here at Popped! Republic like to think WE figured out popcorn, but in truth the rise of commercialized popcorn began back in 1893! A man by the name of Charles Cretors was roasting peanuts for his bakery when he invented a popcorn popper machine powered by a steam engine. Talk about old school! Ever the innovator, Cretors was also the inventor of the first electric popcorn machine in the 1900s. By 1920, Cretors popcorn invention could be found in movie theaters across the United States! Because there was a ration on things like sugar back then, popcorn was mainly seasoned using oil, salt, and butter. Today, popcorn can be seasoned with almost any flavor! Whether you are a lover of savory snacks or sweet treats, we have a flavor for everyone! Just one bite of our popcorn and you’ll see that when it comes to gourmet popcorn, Popped! Republic has it figured out!