The history of popcorn: How one grain become a popular snack

Aug 28, 2023

History of Popcorn

“Golden kernels dance and sing, In a pan, they take to wing. Popping up, they bring delight, A tasty treat, day or night. Popcorn's joy, a simple thing.”

Who Invented Popcorn?

When the delightful aroma of popcorn wafts through the room, there's an irresistible urge to scoop up a handful of those warm, buttery popcorn pieces and indulge in a mouthwatering feast. The mere thought of gobbling them all simultaneously brings pure joy and satisfaction!

As we succumb to the irresistible temptation of purchasing a bag full of popcorn at the theater, we often find ourselves pondering its origins and the intriguing journey that brought it into our modern-day homes and theaters.

At some point in time, all of us must have wondered, "Who invented popcorn?" Some might have researched it and found the answer, while others may have forgotten due to the distraction of munching on mouthfuls, causing the thought to vanish before reaching search engines.

Despite our love for this puffy and delightful snack, we seem to have little or no knowledge of its captivating history. Where did it truly come from? Who invented popcorn? How did the idea of turning hard corn seeds into such a wonderful treat even occur to someone?

Fret no more, my popcorn pals! This blog aims to unveil the exciting story of popcorn. From its humble beginnings to becoming an inseparable part of our cinematic experiences, this blog aims to unveil the exciting story of popcorn.

When was popcorn invented: The Origins and Invention of Popcorn 

Our quest begins in the ancient Mesoamerican civilizations, where evidence points to the earliest known consumption of popcorn. The Aztecs and the Mayans revered corn, using it as a staple in their diets and cultural rituals. It is believed that these ingenious people discovered the art of popping corn over open flames, an accidental but marvelous revelation.

who invented popcorn

The secret behind this marvelous popcorn phenomenon lies in the unique structure of popcorn kernels. Each kernel houses a small drop of water stored inside a starchy core. When exposed to heat, the water turns into steam, causing immense pressure within the kernel. As the pressure increases, the tough hull eventually bursts open, giving birth to the fluffy, edible delight we adore.

Also Read: Popping the Lid on Popcorn: Fun Facts about Popcorn!

The Timeless Journey of Popcorn Across Cultures

As time went by, popcorn effortlessly transcended generations, adapting to various flavors and styles. Today, we find it not only at theaters but also in the comfort of our homes, shared during movie nights, and enjoyed as a versatile snack during parties and gatherings.
Thus, the captivating tale of popcorn reveals how a simple grain of corn, discovered in ancient Mesoamerica, became an integral part of our lives and culture.

Why is it called popcorn? 

Now that we've learned about the history of popcorn and its modest origins, it's time to think about the story behind its name. In addition to exploring how people across different historical periods and cultures addressed this beloved snack, we'll learn about the various names it has been known by. So, let's embark on a fascinating journey to understand how the name "popcorn" came to life and the diverse ways it has been referred to throughout history. 

Popcorn kernels

Totopoca In Mesoamerica

Throughout history, popcorn has gone by various names, reflecting its cultural significance and how people across different times and cultures addressed this delightful snack. In ancient Mesoamerican civilizations like the Aztecs and the Mayans, popcorn was known as "totopoca" an "momochitl." Among Native American tribes, it was often referred to as "parching corn" due to the roasting process over an open flame.

Puffed Corn in the 19th Century

As time went on, popcorn gained popularity and earned different monikers. In the 19th century, it was sometimes called "puffed corn" because of the puffy texture it acquired after popping. Notably, during this period, popcorn became a favorite for making sweet treats like "popcorn balls" by mixing it with sugar syrup.

Also Read: 8 Best Popcorn Flavors to Add to the Menu for Special Occasion!

Popped Corn to Popcorn

However, it was the name "popcorn" that eventually prevailed and became the widely recognized term for this beloved snack. As we dive deeper into popcorn's history, it's fascinating to learn how its name evolved and the various ways it was addressed across different cultures and eras.

With this newfound understanding of its humble beginnings and journey through time, we can truly appreciate the magic behind every kernel that brings joy to our taste buds and a smile to our faces.


In conclusion, popcorn's fascinating journey spans time and cultures, from ancient Mesoamerica to worldwide popularity. Its name evolved, and "popcorn" became the renowned term. With simple joy and delightful flavors, it became inseparable from our movie-watching experiences.

While you read this blog, why don't you browse for your favorite popcorn from Alamo City Popcorn and treat yourself to a relaxing movie night after a tiring day?

Happy popping and happy watching!


Why did popcorn become a popular snack?

Popcorn's delicious taste, ease of preparation, and affordability contributed to its popularity as a convenient and enjoyable snack.

Who were the first people to eat popcorn?

Indigenous Native Americans were the first known people to consume popcorn thousands of years ago.

What country eats the most popcorn?

The United States is the leading consumer of popcorn globally, enjoying it in various forms at movies, events, and as a casual snack.

What was popcorn originally called?

Popcorn was originally called "popped corn" due to its method of preparation using heat, which causes the kernels to burst open and "pop."


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