The Origins of Popcorn

Popcorn is perhaps oldest snack food known to man – with evidence of popcorn being found in the “bat cave” in Western New Mexico dating back to 3600 BC.

The origins of popcorn as a species are not entirely clear, but it seems to go hand and hand with the domestication of maize by early Central and South American inhabitants.

In fact the English word “corn” is somewhat misleading. Corn originally meant whatever cereal plant was most used by a culture. To the English, corn was wheat, in Scotland and Ireland, corn was oats. When the European settlers came to the Americas – they found the inhabitants growing Indian Corn – or maize their dominant cereal plant.

Although European settlers in the new world encountered popcorn in central and South America, there is actually no evidence to suggest that popcorn was present at the first American Thanksgiving in Plymouth Massachusetts in 1621.

Instead Popcorn as we know it today would find its way to North American east coast as Valparaiso corn – brought up sailors and whalers from the Chilean port of Valparaiso recorded as early as 1820. Within a few years it came to be known by what we call it today “popcorn” – an Americanism that shortened the words popped corn. With the invention of wire poppers, popcorn spread quickly throughout the United States.

But it was industrialization that would cement popcorn in the American culinary heritage.

At the World’s Columbian Expo in Chicago 1893, inventor Charles Cretors introduced the world’s first mobile popcorn machine – a simple steam engine attached to a peanut cart that cooked popcorn in a mixture of butter and lard.

At the same expo F.W. Rueckheim introduced a molasses flavored “Candied Popcorn with Peanuts” – the first Caramel Corn. It was a bit too sticky for most people, so Rueckheim’s brother altered the recipe and packaged it a Cracker Jack in 1896.

Cracker JackThe movie palaces of the 1920s were fighting a PR battle with bawldry Nickelodeons. Movie theaters wanted to create an image of class and sophistication so they copied the style of traditional theaters – with sweeping architecture of grand lobbies and furnishing it with elegant crystal chandeliers and gorgeous carpets.

This opened up the movies to brand new audiences – people who were illiterate and often poor and young children – audiences that wouldn’t really be attracted to the palatial setting of movie houses.

And then came the Great Depression. Many movie palaces went under and those that survived were clinging to dear life. Everyone in the movies were suffering… except for the street vendors who were proving there was a buttery goldmine in popcorn. Popcorn was a cheap luxury that people could still afford and it became the first snack smuggled under coats into the movie theater. In this dark time, you could actually make a living as a popcorn street vendor. An Oklahoma banker, who had lost his shirt in the stock market crash, resorted to selling popcorn in front of movie theater. Within a couple years, he made enough money to buy a house, a farm and a store.

Another example of the money in popcorn involves Kemmons Wilson, a young kid who dropped out of high school to support his family. He struck a deal with a Memphis movie theater to sell popcorn outside the theater to patrons. He bought a $50 machine on credit and began selling bags for 5 cents each. In not too much time he was making $40 to $50 dollars a week a lot of money in those times considering the movie theater was struggling to pull in $25. Jealous, the theater owner kicked Wilson out and moved into the popcorn business himself. This story does have a happy ending as Kemmons Wilson vowed to own his own theater so no one would ever take his popcorn machine away again and it was something he did years after he founded Holiday Inn.

The independent non-studio owned theaters were first on board the popcorn gravy train – R.J. McKenna – a manager that ran a chain of theaters in the west began selling popcorn inside the movie theater lobby where the buttery aroma boosted sales. By 1938 he was collecting over $200,000 in proceeds – for that money, who cares if the carpets got messed up. Another chain on the East coast experimented with popcorn only in there smaller theaters – keeping the nicest and fanciest theaters concessions free. Those that had popcorn were making a profit whereas the fancy theaters were dipping into the red.

Popcorn was literally saving the movie theater business – so much so that a Depression-era entrepreneur once gave this bit of advice:

Find a good place to sell popcorn, and build a movie theater around it

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POPtions! Popcorn: The Perfect Graduation Gift!

Trying desperately to come up with a great graduation gift for the high school or college senior in your life? Rather than panicking and picking up something underwhelming or waiting until the last minute and hoping for the best, check out the gourmet gift tins available at POPtions! Popcorn in Saint Louis, MO. We’re a purveyor of gourmet popcorn offers a wide range of fantastic gift tins that are sure to make your graduate smile.

Here’s why gourmet gift baskets from POPtions! are such great presents:

  • Anytime Snack: Popcorn functions as a fabulous “anytime” snack that both delights the palate and satisfies the stomach. Your graduate can enjoy gourmet popcorn as a mid-morning snack or a treat after a long day. Some foods are best for breakfast or dinner only, but not popcorn!
  • Beautiful Packaging: The gourmet gift tins and baskets from POPtions!  are dazzling and may be customized to feature special well wishes and congratulatory messages. They make great keepsakes long after the gourmet popcorn has been enjoyed.Graduation Gift Tins
  • Combination Tins: Combination gift tins allow you to provide the receiver with a variety of tasty treats. Combo tins include timeless options featuring natural, cheddar, and caramel flavors, as well as those for chocolate fanatics and spicy food lovers. There’s even a tin inspired by favorite foods of St. Louis.

Find the perfect gourmet popcorn gift basket you know will be thoroughly appreciated by your special graduate. POPtions! Popcorn creates gift tins for every occasion, as well as bulk gourmet gifts for large groups. Create the perfect tin full of delectable popcorn that’s sure to be a hit at the graduation party.

For more on gourmet gift baskets, gift tins, and flavored popcorn, please contact POPtions! Popcorn today. Call (888) 649-7677 or visit the website.

Give Mom a Gift Tin from POPtions!

Mother’s Day is May 8, so why not pre-order a gourmet gift basket from POPtions! Popcorn to show your Mom, Mother In-Law, Grandmother, or Wife how much she means to you?

Located in St. Louis, MO, this specialty store offers “some of the best gourmet popcorn you’ll ever taste,” according to Joe Bonwich of St. Louis Magazine. Featuring gourmet popcorn in many delicious flavors, POPtions! Popcorn tins serve as a unique gift idea for special holidays.

gourmet gift basket

This spring, POPtions! Popcorn is offering Mother’s Day customizable gift tins in 2 or 3 1/2-gallon sizes. All Mother’s Day gift tins can be ordered with one or three of the store’s signature popcorn flavors included. With more than 20 flavors to choose from, your mom’s gourmet gift basket can contain sweet, tangy, or salty gourmet popcorn delivered fresh and delicious on her special day. Customers can select from Classic Cheddar, Mojito Lime, Gooey Butter Pop, Caramel Cheddar (Chicago style) and Molasses Bacon, to name just a few options.

Single flavor tins can include Caramelt Crunch, caramel drizzled with milk chocolate and topped with toffee chips,  Mint Chocolate Chip, or Buffalo Bleu, a zesty combination of buffalo wings and blue cheese seasonings. Whatever flavor your imagination and taste buds can dream up, chances are, it’s on the POPtions! Popcorn menu.

The POPtions! Popcorn team handcrafts all orders daily inside the store’s kitchen and makes certain that every gourmet gift basket is tasty and beautiful. Aside from Mother’s Day, POPtions! Popcorn creates gourmet popcorn gift baskets for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions.

Mother’s Day gourmet gift tin by POPtions! Popcorn make a unique gift for anyone who loves gourmet popcorn. Stop by the store in St. Louis to create your mom’s gift, or call 888-649-7677 to place an order by phone. You can also browse the popcorn selection and order your tin online.

POPtions! Popcorn Gourmet Gift Tins Are Perfect For Every Occasion!

Shopping for special occasions, like birthdays, holidays, and anniversary celebrations can seem like an ordeal, because we want to give our loved ones and friends something special. POPtions! Popcorn in St. Louis, MO, offers delicious and interesting gourmet popcorn gift tins and baskets that are sure to make your gift shopping easier than ever.

Why choose popcorn? Popcorn is a versatile food, and nearly everyone loves its classic buttery flavor. POPtions! Popcorn goes beyond your average bowl of popcorn, however—they pair complex flavors like pumpkin spice, molasses bacon, chocolate pecan, and even peppermint with a hint of salt to create a truly gourmet food everyone will enjoy. To see all of their innovative flavor options, visit their menu online.

Looking for something with a holiday theme? Try POPtions! Popcorn’s Holiday CeleBERRYation Popcorn Tin, a blend of caramel popcorn and dried cranberries drizzled with Bissinger’s famous dark chocolate.

POPtions! Popcorn offers tins in 2 gallon and 3.5 gallon sizes, both available in single, two, and three flavor options.  Tins may be customized with holiday and special occasion lid labels, including Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, Get Well Soon, and more!  Corporate customers may opt to have their logo on the tin lid at no additional charge.  With so many different options and an array of fun flavors, POPtions! gourmet popcorn is the perfect treat for any special occasion.

Shopping for gifts doesn’t need to be difficult. Choose a delicious gourmet popcorn snack from POPtions! Popcorn for any special occasion. Their sweet, cheesy, savory, spicy and Bissinger’s chocolate topped popcorn are sure to please everyone on your gift list.

To learn more about POPtions! Popcorn, you can reach their Saint Louis store by calling (888) 649-7677, or visit them online. If you want to stay up-to-date on new flavors and promotions, be sure to also follow POPtions! Popcorn on Facebook.

POPtions! Popcorn makes for great Business Gifts!

POPtions! Pop to Give! is your one-stop-pop for tasteful business gift-giving options. Whether you are a small business, a sales rep or a corporation, our gourmet popcorn makes the perfect business gift. We also accept corporate bulk orders, allowing you to personalize your large popcorn order to make great gifts for clients, employees and POP to Give emailvendors.

Sweet or savory, chocolaty or nutty, we always pop to please and will help you create a unique and deliciously memorable POPtions! gourmet business gift. Unlike our competition, POPtions! popcorn comes with personality – yours! There are so many ways to flavor someone else’s day!

Halloween-a special time of year at POPtions! Popcorn

Now that the weather has turned (the cool and crisp days of Fall) and the days are shorter, we’re excited about Halloween just a few short weeks away!

Halloween is always a special time of year at POPtions!  This is our 6th season that we’re offering our Trick or Treat! flavorite!-caramel corn, topped with Brach’s Candy Corn and Bissinger’s Milk Chocolate.  We have customers asking for this flavor year round-but it’s only available between now and Halloween (or until we run out of Candy Corn!).

In addition to Trick or Treat!, we recently added two NEW flavors to our Fall menu; ImageCaramel Apple! and Pumpkin Patch!  What could be better than freshly popped popcorn, gently coated with freshly cooked caramel and seasoned with a hint of apple spice to make a delicious snack for the crisp days of Fall? Or, how about  our classic kettle corn blended with a delicious pumpkin seasoning of cinnamon, ginger, clove, and nutmeg, to create this special pumpkin popcorn that’s both mildly sweet and deliciously crunchy.

Both Caramel Apple! and Pumpkin Patch! are only offered for a limited time, so POP into our store in St Louis  or order online at