Why does popcorn turn into popcorn

Who invented popcorn?

Popcorn was already popular with the Indians in North and South America. Source: © D.Shashikant, Shutterstock

Popcorn is the perfect party snack. The Americans are said to have invented the popcorn. But that is only the half truth. In fact, the Indians in North and South America had corn popped up in order to eat it or to decorate their clothes with it. Aztec physicians threw puffed corn into the fire to predict the future based on shape and direction of flight.

During excavations on the American continent, more than 5000 years old puffed corn was found. In Peruvian graves, archaeologists even discovered grains that had held up so well for 1,000 years that they turned into popcorn when heated. The fact that puffed corn was a popular burial object suggests that it was a high priority in the Indian diet.

Healthy snack

Christopher Columbus already enjoyed popcorn when he discovered the American continent and made contact with the indigenous people. But popcorn only became more widespread when an Indian chief gave it away to white settlers on Thanksgiving.

No cinema without popcorn

With the triumph of cinema in 1930, popcorn became increasingly popular in the USA. Today you can find a popcorn machine with the typical taste in almost every cinema in the world. In Germany, popcorn is nibbled sweetly, while in America it is salty and buttered. On the American continent, people love popcorn so much that they hang it in chains as a decoration on the Christmas tree.

Why does it "pop"?

Only special puffed rice, which has a particularly firm and hard shell, is suitable for making popcorn. But why does it pop at some point when you heat up puffed corn kernels? The fault is the high proportion of water inside a corn kernel. High temperatures cause the liquid water to turn into water vapor. Enormous pressure builds up because the water vapor, which requires more space than liquid water, wants to spread, but is prevented from doing so by the hard shell of the corn kernel.

From around 100 degrees Celsius, the starchy mass inside the grain begins to spread more and more. Between 170 and 200 degrees the shell can no longer withstand the pressure: The corn kernel explodes and the water suddenly evaporates. White, dried starch foam is thrown out, to which often a golden yellow remnant of the cracked shell is still stuck. Popcorn!

Homemade popcorn

To do this, pour sunflower oil into a pan or saucepan until the entire bottom is covered. Now heat the oil vigorously and then add the popcorn kernels. Now switch the herb down to medium level. In any case, put a lid on, because the popcorn develops a good bounce! When all the grains have popped up, let the popcorn cool slightly, season with salt or sugar as you like and start nibbling on it. It's even easier with prefabricated bags that you just have to put in the microwave.

You can find even more exciting information in WAS IST WAS Volume 42 Indians. The indigenous people of North America