Why do we eat popcorn at the movies? - Andrew Smith
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Indigenous American people took advantage of this process thousands of years ago. Once the hard pericarp was shattered, they could easily grind the remains into flour, which they could then use to make foods, like tortillas. They cultivated other varieties of maize, selecting for plants with larger, more flavorful kernels and thinner pericarps. They could grind these kernels more easily or even eat them straight off the cob. But the hard-shelled, pop-able variety also persisted and was disseminated through what’s now the southwestern United States and, mainly, Central and South America. Archaeological remains reveal that people in northern Peru were eating popcorn some 6,700 years ago.
For a more detailed history of popcorn, see this book by Andrew F. Smith: Popped Culture: A Social History of Popcorn in America.
Interested in learning about other foods throughout history? Check out these TED-Ed videos:
How corn conquered the world - Chris A. Kniesly
How the popsicle was invented - Jessica Oreck
A brie(f) history of cheese - Paul S. Kindstedt
History through the eyes of the potato - Leo Bear-McGuinness
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