KEY POINTS

  • National Popcorn Day falls on Jan. 19
  • Around 70% of all popcorn consumed in the country is made at home
  • The moisture content of popcorn should be around 13.5% to avoid unpopped kernels

Popcorn, almost always associated with movie theaters or casual nights of binge-watching, is one of the oldest and most popular snacks in the U.S. And every Jan. 19, people across the country can celebrate this iconic snack on National Popcorn Day.

In honor of National Popcorn Day this Tuesday, here are 15 fun facts about popcorn that you may not know.

1. Not all corns pop

There is only one type of corn that pops when exposed to dry heat, and that is Zea mays everta. This particular type of corn has small ears and kernels that burst when heated. 

2. Popcorn was used for decoration

Popcorn is not only consumed, but it also has long been used as a decoration. Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés apparently saw Aztecs wearing ceremonial headdresses and costumes decorated with popcorn during festivals and dances held in the honor of Tlaloc, the god of maize and fertility, according to Aztec-History.com. Talk about multi-purpose!

3. It is low in calories

Considered a low-calorie snack, a cup of plain, air-popped popcorn contains only 31 calories. A serving of potato chips, on the other hand, is estimated to have around 139 calories.

4. Nebraska and its love for popcorn

The state of Nebraska produces more popcorn than any other state, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). How much? About 250 million pounds per year. This is about a quarter of all the popcorn produced annually in the country.

5. Popcorns have two shapes

Popped popcorns have two shapes -- snowflake and mushroom. The ones you get from the movie theaters are usually snowflake-shaped because they're bigger. Confections, on the other hand, use mushroom-shaped popcorn because it won't crumble.

6. All for the love of popcorn

The largest popcorn ball ever made measured 12 feet in diameter and required 2,000 pounds of corn, 40,000 pounds of sugar, 280 gallons of corn syrup and 400 gallons of water to create, according to Popcorn Explorer.

7. Popcorn consumption in America is huge

Americans consume about 17 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually, according to the USDA. This amount would fill the Empire State Building in New York 18 times, an article on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln website noted.

Hallmark Channel Popcorn Bowl Hallmark Channel movie fans will love a popcorn bowl which allows them to enjoy their favorite movies with their favorite snack. Photo: Hallmark

8. What's the name?

Unpopped kernels have a couple of special names. They're also called "old maids" or "spinsters."

9. Christopher Columbus allegedly introduced popcorn to the Europeans

It is said that the explorer Christopher Columbus brought popcorn to Europe in the late 15th century, according to HowStuffWorks.com.

10. It is usually enjoyed at home

Around 70% of all popcorn consumed in the country is made at home. This might be because of the fact that for every $1 spent on popcorn at the cinemas, 90 cents is profit.

11. Popcorn is reportedly free of all major allergens

Popcorn is reportedly free of all major allergens, including gluten, soy, dairy egg and nuts, according to GourmetGiftBaskets.com. However, Very Well Health noted that popcorn from some brands contains additives that "can be problematic for those with food allergies." The oil used in making the popcorn should be noted as well as it could cause a reaction in those with nut allergies.

12. Popcorns are believed to have spirits

Native Americans believed that in every kernel of popcorn lived a spirit. The spirits are said to pop because of anger when their home, the popcorn, gets heated.

13. Charles Cretors invented the first popcorn machine

The first known popcorn machine was invented by Charles Cretors in Chicago back in 1885. To date, the business still manufactures popcorn machines.

14. Just the right temperature

On average, a kernel will pop when it reaches a temperature of 347 degrees Fahrenheit.

15. How to avoid "spinsters"

Ideally, the moisture content of popcorn should be around 13.5% to avoid unpopped kernels.