Popcorn has been a staple in many households for eons. It’s a fun snack food and it’s quick and very easy to prepare. Buttered, salted and served in a big bowl, it was the snack to have on the weekend during a movie playing on TV. And of course, the big bucket of popcorn at the movie theatre has been a standard since the beginning. It’s inexpensive and for some reason, we equate it to being a fun food.
It originated in Mexico thousands of years go. It began as a domesticated grass and over time, was developed into what we now see everyday in the snack aisle.
Interestingly enough, people used to eat popcorn for breakfast in the 1800’s Yes, just like any other breakfast, one would pour a bowl of popcorn and douse it with milk and sugar before consuming it.
It became quite popular during the Great Depression where you could buy a big bag of this inexpensive and filling snack for a nickel. The corn farmers who grew it made out well selling this crop destined for the popper while other food businesses failed as they were too expensive for the poor economy.
Popcorn took another upswing in “pop”-ularity during World War ll when sugar rations were in place and sweet snacks were either difficult to come by or impossible to purchase due to the lack of ration coupons. Of course plain popcorn doesn’t require sugar so it once again gained the interest of the American public to the point where they were eating three times as much as they did before the war.
Like other grains such as quinoa, millet and amaranth, popcorn contains water. The hull of popping corn is moisture-proof which is one reason why it lasts indefinitely if you store it properly. But it also allows the popping action. The water inside the hull heats up and turns to steam. This steam has to go somewhere and not unlike a pressure cooker with no pressure gauge, the steam bursts through the hull which essentially turns the hull inside out exposing the interior.
While it is heating and turning to steam inside the hull, it softens the interior starches. The sudden exposure to the rapid expansion of the hull stiffens the starch which gives it that crunchy yet tender texture.
And of course, people couldn’t seem to leave well enough alone. Along the way, manufacturers began trying out other snack applications to popcorn and we now find the popular Cracker Jack snack, the ever present popcorn balls at Halloween time and of course plain old caramel corn. And lest we forget, people still string it and put it on Christmas trees as a decoration.
Manufacturers even tried using it as a packaging material but rodents were on to this and it failed as a substitution for styrofoam peanuts.
However it still does reign as one of the more popular snacks and this can include your flock of birds if you prepare it properly. I don’t recommend the use of butter at all but if you would like to pop their corn in a kettle with a little flax seed oil in the bottom to prevent sticking and burning, have at it. And omit the salt as well.
I also don’t suggest the microwave version with the white bag you place on the turntable. You’ll want to use a healthy oil when you pop corn for your birds.
The use of the healthy oil is a nutritional layering concept where the birds get the popcorn but are also getting a little bit of flax seed oil which will help them.
And of course, an air popper which employs nothing but hot air to pop the corn is perfectly acceptable as well.
My African Greys seem to enjoy it now and then as a snack. It’s fun to make and I enjoy watching them pick up a kernel of popped puffy corn and hold it while they crunch away.
So if you’re in the mood for some popcorn, share this evening treat with them. You can feed the leftovers to the wild birds outside. You’ll all have fun!