As in-home movie theaters grow in popularity, so does the great American snack: popcorn

WJLA Meteorologist Veronica Johnson gets ready to enjoy a bowl of popcorn while she watches TV. (Photo: WJLA)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) – If you still need something to look forward to in 2021, consider a celebration of one of America’s most influential snack foods: popcorn!

Now with more in-home viewing of movies while theaters continue to social distance, the home popcorn chefs are kicking it up a bit.

The United States will observe National Popcorn Day on Jan. 17. This irresistible treat dates back thousands of years as a staple crop for Indigenous tribes.

It began its pervasive rise into American culture in the late 1800s when Charles Cretors, a confectioner from Illinois, modified a peanut roasting machine to accommodate the popping kernels. Recognizing its lucrative potential, he began selling his fresh popcorn out of street wagons to customers at fairs, carnivals, and eventually movie theaters.

Today, Americans consume an estimated 15 billion quarts of popcorn a year, enough for everyone to have 47 quarts just to themselves. If eating it by the kernel (or handful) gets too repetitive, it can fit right into a granola bar, mixed into candy brittle or even atop a salad.

Nutritionally, popcorn has little competition in the snack category. It's a whole grain, meaning that all parts of the kernel remain available when processed and eaten. Popcorn provides a reliable source of complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals while being low in fat and calories -- just go easy on the toppings.

No matter if you make it with the stovetop, popping machine, microwave, air popper or over an open fire, popcorn makes anything you’re watching a little easier to swallow.

You can learn more here.

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