Monday, May 10, 2010

Get the Inside Story on Who Invented the Popcorn Machine

If there's one snack that is often dubbed as an indulgence for life's blissfully idyllic moments, is defined by an unimaginable number of flavors and is blessed with an eternal appeal that's unsurpassed in every way, it just has to be popcorn. Cheddar cheese popcorn, peppermint popcorn, white chocolate or chocolate fudge popcorn, there are innumerable ways to celebrate the enduring mystique of this wonderful snack. History is no stranger to its iconic status, and neither is the world's appreciation of it.
Such is the unabashed hype and hoopla about this snack, that other equally intriguing aspects remain shrouded in a cloak of exotic mystery. Take for example, the fascinating question that teases you about your knowledge of popcorn machines, and asks, 'who invented the popcorn machine?'
Facts With That Nostalgic Echo
Popcorn gained immense popularity during the Great Depression, when street vendors made quite a killing by selling it with assistance from steam or even gas-powered popcorn poppers. It was sometime during the year 1885 that Charles Cretors caused a sensation by inventing the world's first popcorn machine.
Originally designed as a peanut roaster, Cretors simply added a contraption on top to make the machine look different. But what really catapulted C. Cretors & Co. to the rockstar league was their spectacular showing at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in the year 1893. It was here that the first steam driven, mobile popcorn machine popped more eyeballs that probably Madonna and Justin Timberlake together on stage.
What followed was nothing short of a revolution. With the impressive spike in the appeal of mobile machines, the movie going experience changed forever. Today, movie halls without popcorn or their redoubtable machines are like chocolates without sin or Windows without Bill Gates!
Trigger For Innovation
More innovations followed, and in 1925 home poppers made their debut, followed by the microwave popcorn by Percy L Spencer in 1945, which, in fact, provided the trigger for inventing the microwave oven.

Who invented popcorn

Even with a mysterious origin, Americans' enjoyment of popcorn spans centuries

Some may wonder "who invented popcorn"? Popcorn has been a favorite snack literally for centuries. Now popcorn is an American favorite sold at movie theaters across the country as well as in gift baskets given on holidays. It is unclear who the first person to actually invent popcorn, however the oldest ears of popcorn found to date were discovered in a bat cave off west central New Mexico in 1948. The bat cave popcorn ears are gauged to be approximately 4,000 years old. That proves that Americans have literally been snacking on popcorn for centuries! 

Popcorn was "invented" by other people in the world as well. It is probably safe to assume that popcorn was popular in places where corn was grown as a major food source. In 1519, Cortes saw popcorn when he invaded Mexico and first met the Aztecs. Popcorn was important to the Aztec Indians as a food source. But, they also made necklaces and decorated their headdresses with popcorn. It has been recorded that the Peruvian Indians in the 16th century were also using popcorn. 

Popcorn has been very popular in America. From the 1800s until the Great Depression, street vendors would sell it using steam or gas-powered popcorn poppers. The very first commercial popcorn machine was invented by Charles Cretors in 1885 in Chicago, Illinois. There are even old fashioned poppers that'll give your popcorn the same old time flavor that first hooked our society on popcorn. 

Popcorn was priced at about five or ten cents a bag during the Depression, and it was a little luxury that most families could afford. This meant that the popcorn business still did well through the Depression. 

A favorite treat during the late 1800s through the early 1900s was the popcorn ball. Popcorn balls are simple to make. Many people still enjoy them today, and make them especially for the holiday season. People in the 1800s also ate flavored popcorn. Some favorite flavorings include rose, honey, molasses and sugar. Popcorn was also used to make wonderful holiday decorations like garlands that draped the Christmas tree or fireplace mantle in many Victorian households.

During WWII, popcorn became an extremely patriotic snack because sugar was rationed; Americans snacked on more popcorn than ever before. Popcorn remained a popular snack throughout the rest of the twentieth century. With such an interesting history and so many fun facts, not to mention tasty, its no wonder why this food has been apart of American society for so long. 

Today, it is said that Americans eat more popcorn than any other part of the world. We eat popcorn at ballparks, state fairs, carnivals, rodeos, movie theatres, and also at home. Microwaveable popcorn is an industry all of its own – with many people eating microwave popcorn every week as their special snack. Popcorn is primarily grown in America, in states including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio. 

A popular gift at holiday time is large cans of popcorn, with pretty decorations on them. A traditional popcorn can has three kinds of popcorn in it – cheese popcorn, caramel popcorn and butter flavored popcorn. But you can find popcorn in just about any flavor that you desire. There is white chocolate popcorn, peppermint popcorn, chocolate fudge popcorn, cheddar cheese popcorn – just to name a delicious few. If there is a flavor you can think of –surely you can find popcorn in that flavor! 

Popcorn is certainly a snack that we have enjoyed for centuries and that we will continue to enjoy for many centuries to come.

When Was the Popcorn Maker Invented?

Popcorn... who doesn't love hot, buttery popcorn? Everybody knows that popcorn was introduced to the first Pilgrims by friendly natives. But the making of popcorn has evolved considerably since the 1600s. First commercial popcorn machines and then home popcorn makers were invented to make the tasty treat available to everybody.

    Early Popcorn Poppers

  1. Popcorn makers were in use as early as 300 A.D. In Peru, a lost pre-Incan culture invented a piece of crockery that was designed with a hole in the top and a handle for shaking it over the fire. By the 17th century, another type of machine was used. A thin metal cylinder with a handle was filled with kernels and turned by hand, close to an open fire.
  2. Cretors & Co.

  3. The first commercial popcorn machine was invented by Charles C. Cretors in 1885. Cretors owned a candy shop in Decatur, Illinois. Becoming successful by inventing a steam-powered peanut roaster, he moved to Chicago to expand his business. Before long he had modified his machine to pop corn. After adding wheels and a mechanical clown, The Toasty Roasty Man, his popcorn maker was complete.
  4. Other Commercial Popcorn Machines

  5. Just before World War I, manufacturers Holcomb & Hoke began to market commercial popcorn makers, claiming that with the purchase of one machine, investors could make their fortunes selling popcorn. This company, however, did not last long, due to the Great Depression. Between 1920 and 1940, several other companies sprang up, manufacturing and selling popcorn-making machines to supply the world with fresh popcorn.
  6. Home Popcorn Makers

  7. Home popcorn makers came on the market in the 1970s. These small appliances popped the corn with a continuous flow of hot air instead of the traditional hot oil that the commercial machines used. This was a great selling point as people grew more health conscious and less pleased with the fatty commercially sold popcorn. Microwave popcorn was introduced in the 1980s.
  8. Popcorn Today

  9. Every year, Americans eat over 17 billion quarts of popcorn. It is served everywhere from movie theaters to hotel lobbies, and more than half of all popcorn eaten in American is made in the microwave. Popcorn truly has become a standard of American culture.

Who Invented the Popcorn Machine?

Corn popped over an open flame was sold by vendors in the 1880s, but it was not popular. Charles Cretors, an inventor with a flair for sales and advertising, changed the history of popcorn with the introduction of a steam-powered popping machine.

    The Peanut Roaster

  1. Cretors, a sign painter and candy store owner, was interested in how things worked. His purchase of a steam-powered peanut roaster inspired him to design an improved roasting machine, says the Popcorn Machine Site.
  2. Advertising

  3. Cretors added hand-painted details to the outside of his machine, which had "striping ... in gold leaf and color." He also attracted customers with a small clown called the "Toasty Roasty" man, who cranked the peanuts, according to the Peanut King website.
  4. The Popcorn Machine

  5. In 1893, Cretors patented a process for popping popcorn, using a seasoning mix of lard and butter oil. Soon his popcorn was more popular than his peanuts.
  6. Colombian Exposition

  7. The popcorn machine was featured at the 1893 Colombian Exposition in Chicago. At first, Cretors gave it away, then started a new batch. The aroma of freshly popped corn then attracted new customers.
  8. The Popcorn Wagon Evolves

  9. The first popcorn machines were built on hand-pulled carts. After 1900, the carts were replaced by horse-drawn wagons.

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