"Popcorn is America's gift to the world, and what a wonderful, fun-filled bequest it is."
Such is the very last line in the narrative section of POPPED CULTURE: A SOCIAL HISTORY OF POPCORN IN AMERICA. This very informative volume by Andrew Smith describes every aspect of this snack food, from its evolution on the cob in pre-historical Central and South America to 20th century "gourmet popcorn" in microwave bags.
While the book's title states this is a "social history", it seemed to me more a chronicle of the popcorn industry, especially in the United States, where popcorn was "invented", i.e. reached the citizenry's mass consciousness, in the first half of the 19th century. Smith has extensively researched every element of the saga: growers, processors, vendors, entrepreneurs, popping devices, packaging, flavoring, advertising, and target markets (both children and adults, at home and at the "movies").
Because so much of this book is a detailed narrative of the biz, it's not particularly fun, but rather like popcorn without butter and salt. There are too many passages like the following:
"... Wyandot (Popcorn Company) was sold to Vogel Popcorn, a division of Golden Valley. Golden Valley is now owned by ConAgra. ConAgra had previously purchased Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn during the mid 1970s. Jiffy Pop was sold in 1962 to American Home Products. In 1996 American Home Products was acquired by Hick, Muse, Tate and Furst, an investment firm, and it food industry management affiliate, C. Dean Metropoulos. Today Jiffy Pop and Franklin Crunch `N' Munch are part of International Home Foods, Inc., of Parsippany , New Jersey."
Why would any but the most obsessive of popcorn lovers, or business students, care?
POPPED CULTURE includes a small section of illustrations, and extensive sections dedicated to Notes and Bibliography/Resources. It also incorporates a 48-page chapter on historical recipes. Anyone for macaroni and popcorn, prune and popcorn pudding, popcorn omelet, popcorn macaroons, popcorn stuffed dates, popcorn soup, popcorn scrapple, popcorn and parsnips, popcorn and bacon, popcorn hash, popcorn with ice cream, or popcorn trifle? Uh, no. I think I'll just have the large tub ... with extra butter.
- Hardcover: 264 pages
- Publisher: Univ of South Carolina Pr; New edition (31 May 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1570033005
- ISBN-13: 978-1570033001
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.1 x 22.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 630 g
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