Pop-tastic! Celebrating national popcorn day

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The staple choice for any cinema visit, popcorn is one of the best loved snacks around - so much so, it’s been given its very own national day.

Falling on 19th January, national popcorn day celebrates these puffed corn kernels in all their glory. Whether you’re cooking from scratch or throwing a ready-made bag in the microwave, there’s no denying how moreish popcorn is! 

In honour of this national day, we’ve taken a look at all things popcorn, from why it’s become so popular to how to can get cooking with it.

How did popcorn become some popular?

Popcorn isn’t just a modern phenomenon. The first popped kernel dates back a whopping 5,600 years and history documents people throughout time enjoying popcorn as much as we do today!

But it was the mid-19th century when popcorn really came into its own. Although it wasn’t commonly made at home, popcorn was sold in abundance in shops, on the streets and at the circus. Popping the kernels became mobile in 1885 when Charles Cretors invented the first ever commercial popcorn machine. The invention was timed to perfection, as it coincided with the boom of early cinema – that’s how it became the treat to have when watching a movie.

In 1981, we saw the introduction of microwave popcorn, making the snack easy to make within the home and saw another boom in consumption.

The flavour game has been upped

The days of choosing from just salted or sweet popcorn are well behind us. The boundaries of flavours have been taken to a whole new level, with weird and wonderful popcorn tastes and tangs being invented for our palate to experience. Be warned though – some sound absolutely delicious, but some sound rather unappetising!

Food dishes tend to be the main source for flavour inspiration, with the tastes of the world now being infused into popcorn. Try the aromatic madras curry, lime and black onion seed popcorn, or if you’re a lover of the American diet, cheeseburger popcorn is the one for you.

Alcoholic tipples are well a truly now getting involved in the popcorn game too. Pub-corn is the perfect snack to get enjoy when you’re sat enjoying a few cold ones with the football, whilst the gin and tonic-infused popcorn will certainly get your taste buds going. For the avant-garde popcorn eater, the burgundy wine and cheddar cheese flavour could be right up your street.

If you’re wanting to go ultra-experimental though, get a load of these wacky flavours. Tokyo’s Disneyland sells soy sauce and butter popcorn, Popcorn Passion sell its very own crab flavour, or to rekindle the taste of Christmas, try eggnog popcorn.

How to get popcorn into your everyday cooking  

You don’t just have to have popcorn when you’re going to the cinema – incorporating it into your everyday cooking is simple. Here are a few great recipes to add to your culinary catalogue:

Thai popcorn-and-peanut-crusted chicken

Give your boring chicken dish a flavoursome boost by pairing popcorn and peanuts to create crunchy topping.

Popcorn pork tiger prawns

Paired with garlic mayo, smoked bacon relish and a side salad, reinvent your go-to prawn dish with a puffed kernel twist.

Popcorn parmesan crisps

A healthier snack, add a handful of popcorn into the mix when you’re rustling up some crisp crackers for extra texture and taste.

For more inspiration on refreshing your cookbook, visit our guide to quick comfort food