Join us on January 19 as we celebrate National Popcorn Day! Buttered, salted, kettled, drizzled with caramel, popcorn is one of those snacks perfect anytime, anywhere. It’s great on the go, in the theater, or in your living room! Just be prepared to dig some of it out of your teeth.
When is National Popcorn Day 2023?
Salted, buttered, or caramel, National Popcorn Day celebrates this delectable snack on January 19.
History of National Popcorn Day
Did you know that the corn we eat and the corn we pop are two different varieties of maize? In fact, the corn you’d find on your dinner table is most likely unable to pop at all! Only one variety of corn is able to become popcorn: Zea mays everta. This particular corn variety has small ears, and the kernels burst when exposed to dry heat.
In 1948, small heads of Zea mays everta were discovered by Herbert Dick and Earle Smith in the Bat Cave of west central New Mexico. Ranging from smaller than a penny to about two inches, the oldest Bat Cave ears were about 4,000 years old. Several individually popped kernels were also discovered, which have since been carbon dated and shown to be approximately 5,600 years old. There’s also evidence of early use of popcorn in Peru, Mexico, and Guatemala, as well as other places in Central and South America.
Aztecs used popcorn to decorate their clothes, create ceremonial embellishments, and also for nourishment. Native Americans have also been found to consume and utilize popcorn in their day to day lives. In a cave in Utah, thought to be inhabited by Pueblo Native Americans, popcorn has been found that dates back to over 1,000 years ago. French explorers who traveled to the new world discovered popcorn being made by the Iroquois Natives in the Great Lakes region. As colonists moved around North America, and as the USA came to be, many people adopted popcorn as a popular and healthy snack.
National Popcorn Day timeline
Don Hernán Cortés gets his first sight of popcorn when he invades Mexico and comes into contact with the Aztecs.
Padre Bernabé Cobo writes about Peruvian Natives, and notes, "They toast a certain kind of corn until it bursts. They call it pisancalla, and they use it as confection."
Many theaters refuse to sell popcorn because they believe it is too messy.
Microwavable popcorn becomes available in the marketplace.
National Popcorn Day Traditions
National Popcorn Day is all about enjoying a movie while sinking your hand into a bucket or packet of popcorn. Food marketing agencies love this holiday, so keep your eye out as there will be some deals and freebies available on and around the holiday.
National Popcorn Day Stats
15 billion quarts — the amount of popcorn consumed by Americans annually.
70% — the percentage of popcorn eaten at home.
90% — the percentage of unpopped popcorn sales.
13.5% — the percentage of moisture content in popcorn.
31 — the number of calories in a cup of popcorn.
5,000 — the number of years popcorn has been in existence for.
1885 — the year when the first commercial popcorn machine was invented by Charles Cretors.
250 million — the number of pounds of popcorn produced in Nebraska every year.
3 – the number of feet that a single popped corn can fly when popping.
400°F — the ideal temperature for popping popcorn.
National Popcorn Day FAQs
Is there a National Popcorn Day?
There absolutely is! National Popcorn Day comes around every year on January 19. Put on a movie, get nice and comfy, and dig in to your favorite bag of buttery popped goodness!
Why do we celebrate National Popcorn Day?
Popcorn has been around forever and has been used for everything from a delicious snack, to jewelry, to art! It’s about time that popcorn got its credit for being so versatile, convenient, and reliable.
Why does corn pop?
In the middle of popcorn kernels is a tiny droplet of water surrounded by a hard shell called a hull. As the popcorn comes into contact with dry heat, the water turns into steam which builds pressure inside the kernel. When the hull can no longer contain the pressure, the kernel explodes — essentially turning inside out to expose and inflate its soft, starchy interior.
National Popcorn Day Activities
Make Popcorn Jewelry
Why not make a long necklace for you, friends, family members—even strangers. It will definitely make you the most popular person at the office happy hour.
Plan a Movie Marathon
Three weeks into January? Chances are you just want to hide and eat comfort food—but, your resolutions. There's a win-win! Tee up your favorite Star Wars Trilogy (Pro Tip: not the prequels) and pop a big bowl of popcorn. You can enjoy the wisdom of Yoda and keep to your diet. (A little olive oil and salt with the carb-y goodness of the popcorn may just hit the spot!)
Put on the Popcorn Olympics at Your Office
Popcorn basketball, popcorn air hockey, popcorn relay race? Burn off the pent-up energy gathered from sitting in a chair all day and get competitive with your coworkers. And when you're feeling a little peckish, munch on some popcorn and keep the fun going!
5 Facts About Popcorn That Will Make You Grab Some
Popcorn is healthy
Popcorn is GMO-free and a gluten-free snack.
Popcorn was popular during World War II
During the World War II sugar shortage, Americans ate three times more popcorn.
Unpopped popcorn kernels at the bottom of a popcorn bag are called old maids.
Popcorn as Decor
In North America, popcorn is a common Christmas tree decoration!
It has two shapes
Round-shaped popcorn is called mushroom popcorn, and popcorn that pops into odd shapes is called butterfly popcorn.
Why We Love National Popcorn Day
It's Easy and Fast to Make
Whether you're cooking on the stovetop or in the microwave, popcorn takes a matter of minutes—and you can personalize it with your own favorite toppings: classic butter, spices, and even sriracha! Yum.
Popcorn is a whole grain—the starchy inside of the grain has been fluffed with heat and air. The carbohydrates and air add up, making a wonderful snack alternative for those watching their waistline.
It Comes With Good Memories
Think of the morning matinee with your dad or that sweet (and awkward) first date at the movies. Popcorn tends to be part of festive occasions and meaningful moments.
National Popcorn Day dates
National Popcorn Day Featured Video
Jan. 19 is National Popcorn Day