Popcorn History

Join us as we head back in time for a whirlwind tour of the history of popcorn, from humble grain to global phenomenon.

4700 B.C.

4700 B.C. (ish): The Big Pop

It all began with a curious Peruvian tribesman and a single piece of corn. Probably.

Actually, although the oldest known popcorn was found in Peru and dates from as early as 4700 B.C. (making it ever so slightly older than the popcorn at your local multiplex), no one knows exactly when or how it was discovered. But we like to think of our startled tribesman marvelling at the fluffy white cluster of magic that sprung forth from that first lowly grain.

1492

1492: Christopher Columbus makes an important discovery

Despite being arguably more famous for his role in colonising the Americas, Christopher Columbus was also the first person to bring popcorn to Europe.

Apparently the Native Americans who greeted Columbus loved nothing more than munching on the fluffy white snack. And the famous explorer? Well, it appears he couldn’t agree more.

1800s

The 1800s: “Waiter, there’s a kernel in my soup!”

In 19th Century America, it seemed that no meal couldn’t be improved with the addition of popcorn. From nutritious breakfast cereals and hearty porridges to cakes and puddings, peckish Americans simply couldn’t get enough of the stuff. They even added it to salads, main dishes and soups.

1885

1885: A world first is unveiled in Chicago

In 1885 at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition, inventor Charles Cretors dazzled hungry bystanders with the first ever commercial popcorn machine. Cretors’ decadent take on popcorn involved popping corn in a mixture of one-third clarified butter, two-thirds lard and salt. Needless to say, our machines are a lot healthier!

1942–1945

1942-1945: The kernels of WWII

During the Second World War, sugar rations diminished the production of sweets and snacks in America. Resourceful Americans compensated by eating three times as much popcorn. Naturally.

20th Century

The 20th Century: Popcorn movies

Whether we were inadvertently throwing it over our heads during Jaws or sobbing into our buckets during Terms of Endearment, the 20th Century was the era when popcorn became synonymous with cinema.

And while we believe it also makes a wonderfully unusual hors d’oeuvre for a party or a unique side dish at supper, we can’t deny that there’s nothing quite like settling in to watch a great film with a big bowl of freshly popped corn.

2013

2013: THE POPCORNIST IS BORN

In 2013, our motley team of passionate popcorn enthusiasts founded a little website called The Popcornist aimed at inspiring people to make perfect popcorn at home with traditional popcorn makers and deliciously daringly recipes.