By Lisa Nicklanovich; photos courtesy of Popcorn Bliss
The second Thursday in March is Popcorn Lovers Day, and who doesn’t love popcorn? This time-honored and versatile snack can be enjoyed plain, sweet, salty, savory or a combination of flavors. So many more options exist though …
To begin with, popcorn can be flavored to your liking whether that is fried pickle, key lime, bacon chocolate or chipotle lime. You could even mix it with kale and nutritional yeast. It can be molded into a candied ball or shaped into a cake. It can be mixed into brownies or snack bars. It can be used to bread fried chicken. Popcorn can even be strung and used for decoration. What other snack can do all that?
Popcorn is a whole grain food, made of the germ, endosperm, and pericarp which is the hull. Most popcorn eaten throughout the world is grown in the U.S., and Americans eat more popcorn than anyone else. It is low in fat and calories, by itself of course, with only about 31 calories in a cup of air-popped popcorn. It is high in fiber and inexpensive. Popcorn is the only type of corn that can pop. Its hull is thicker than the other types of corn, which allows steam pressure to build up inside before it bursts.
Blending popcorn with peanuts and molasses became popular when it was introduced as Cracker Jack in 1896. At baseball games, fairs, circuses, and carnivals, one would see a box of Cracker Jack in many people’s hands. Now, anything goes as far as combinations and flavors.
Many love sweet and salty together but for others, it needs to be either or – sweet kettle corn while strolling the farmers market or a savory drizzle of butter or maybe truffle oil for a movie watching munchie. A nice trifecta is to blend a cereal (Cheerios, Chex, oatmeal squares), a sweet candy (M&Ms, teddy grahams, mini chocolate peanut butter cups), and a salty snack (pretzels, peanuts, goldfish) together with popped corn in a colorful and flavorful mix you can adapt to the current season or holiday. For St. Patrick’s Day, embellish with green sprinkles or a green serving container.
Whether popping corn using a hot air popper, with oil in a pot on the stove, over an open fire, or in the microwave, enjoy your favorite version of popcorn for Popcorn Lovers Day.