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By Lia Blanchard

The Oscars are on Sunday, so we still have a few days to catch any nominees we’ve missed. Whether that means settling in front of the TV at home or heading to the theatre, the experience will probably include popcorn.

Match made in Hollywood

Since talkies ensured Hollywood’s profound impact on American culture, popcorn was there. When theatre owners in the 1920s deemed the snack too messy to sell in their venues, smart vendors began setting up right next door – or on the street outside, utilizing the mobile popcorn machine introduced in 1893. Theatre owners quickly learned to either sell popcorn themselves or go out of business.

Due to its addition to the moviegoing experience, popcorn actually experienced an increase in sales during the Great Depression – it was one of the few affordable luxuries. One enterprising theatre owner enjoyed substantial profit when he lowered his ticket prices and added a popcorn machine.

In the 1950s television became a commonplace household item, and movie attendance dropped – along with popcorn sales. It wasn’t long, however, before the American public began popping and eating popcorn at home, and sales soared.

Popcorn itself has been enjoyed for millennia, but there’s no denying that when you settle in front of the silver screen with a bucket of whole grain goodness, you’re partaking in a time-honored American ritual of pleasure. Enjoy!

Concession Stand

By the numbers

1 – of the six varieties of corn, the number of varieties that will pop

2 – basic shapes of popped corn (snowflake and mushroom)

3 – feet of height reached by popping kernels

13.5 – the ideal percentage of moisture in a kernel of popping corn

31 – calories per cup of air-popped popcorn

38 – ratio of size of popped kernel to an unpopped one

52 – average number of quarts of popcorn consumed by each American annually

55 – calories per cup of oil-popped popcorn

70 – percent of popcorn sold that is consumed in the home

4,000 – age in years of popcorn found in a cave in New Mexico

5,000 – weight in pounds of the world’s largest popcorn ball

16 billion – quarts of popcorn sold annually in the United States

Want to learn even more about popcorn? Visit www.popcorn.org for lots more information!