Archive for February 22nd, 2008


Governor Dodge: Deer Cove

Winter 026


On This Day, 2-22-08: Popcorn

1630 – Quadequine introduced popcorn to English colonists at their first Thanksgiving dinner.

1819 – Spain ceded Florida to the United States.

1855 – The U.S. Congress voted to appropriate $200,000 for continuance of the work on the Washington Monument. The next morning the resolution was tabled and it would be 21 years before the Congress would vote on funds again. Work was continued by the Know-Nothing Party in charge of the project.

1859 – U.S. President Buchanan approved the Act of February 22, 1859, which incorporated the Washington National Monument Society “for the purpose of completing the erection now in progress of a great National Monument to the memory of Washington at the seat of the Federal Government.”

1860 – Organized baseball’s first game was played in San Francisco, CA.

1865 – In the U.S., Tennessee adopted a new constitution that abolished slavery.

1879 – In Utica, NY, Frank W. Woolworth opened his first 5 and 10-cent store.

1885 – The Washington Monument was officially dedicated in Washington, DC. It opened to the public in 1889.

1924 – U.S. President Calvin Coolidge delivered the first presidential radio broadcast from the White House.

1956 – Elvis Presley entered the music charts for the first time. “Heartbreak Hotel” began its climb to the number one spot on the pop listing, reaching the top on April 11, 1956. It stayed at the top for eight weeks.

1973 – The U.S. and Communist China agreed to establish liaison offices.

1984 – The U.S. Census Bureau statistics showed that the state of Alaska was the fastest growing state of the decade with an increase in population of 19.2 percent.

1997 – Scottish scientist Ian Wilmut and colleagues announced that an adult sheep had been successfully cloned. Dolly, the first cloned sheep to be born was born in July 1996.

History that pops
The love of popcorn is nothing new. The history of popcorn consumption stretches back more than 5,000 years. Archaeologists and researchers believe that popcorn is the oldest of a group of five sweet corns that include Indian corn, pod corn, sweet corn and field corn. Popcorn was a new world food, originally grown in Mexico — popcorn ears, more than 5,600 years old, were found in the Bat Cave in New Mexico half a century ago — before spreading globally through India, China and Sumatra long before the first European explorers reached U.S. shores.

Originally throwing it on sizzling hot stones placed over an open fire was the method for popping corn. With no way to contain it, the popcorn would explode in various directions and anyone who wanted to eat it had to find it first.

Native Americans popped corn 2,000 years ago and Christopher Columbus observed West Indian natives wearing popcorn corsages. Popcorn also was used to decorate ceremonial headdresses and enterprising Native Americans sold popcorn to Columbus’s sailors.

Popcorn that is over 1,000 years old was discovered on the east coast of Peru. Preserved by the Peruvian Indians, this popcorn still pops a millennium or so later.

The Aztecs, according to (???????) Cortez, used popcorn to decorate their ceremonial garb as a symbol of goodwill and peace. The Aztecs also fashioned necklaces and other ornaments from popcorn to place on the statues of their deities, particularly that of the god Tialoc who represented rain, fertility and maize.

Ways of popping corn differed over the years. Eschewing throwing kernels on hot slabs, the Iroquois, in the 17th century, popped their corn in pottery containing heated sand. Other ancient poppers were made of soapstone, pottery and metal, some with tripod legs and some large clay containers with lids designed to be set right in the fire.

Popcorn was served at the first Thanksgiving feast, bought to the Pilgrims by Quadequine, a brother of Chief Massasoit of the Wampanoag tribe.
Colonials loved the dish so much, they used to serve it with sugar and cream for breakfast. Popcorn carts, invented in 1885, were so popular that crowds would follow them down the streets, watching the kernels develop.

And popcorn still is one of the most popular snacks. According to, over 17 billion quarts are consumed a year, with the average American eating approximately 59 quarts per person annually.

February 2008

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