According to the Popcorn Board, a national non-profit organization formed as an Act of Congress in 1998, we consume more than 16 billion quarts of the popular whole-grain snack in the United States each year. This averages 51 quarts per individual! Popcorn is not only pop-ular (corny pun, but we had to include it), it’s quite nutritious as far as snack foods go. When compared to many other snacks, popcorn is a low-calorie, whole grain alternative that provides vitamins and fiber.

October is National Popcorn Popping Month, and in honor of this iconic – and healthy – snack, families all over the country will celebrate with their favorite recipes for popping, seasoning and serving the tasty treat.

Some interesting facts about popcorn:

– Popcorn is the only member of the corn, or maize family, that pops
– The bulk of U.S. popcorn comes from the Midwest; Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri and Nebraska
– Popcorn sales for home consumption peak in the fall
– One of the number one uses of the microwave oven is to pop popcorn, with most ovens sporting a button especially for popcorn
– Popcorn is powerful when it pops and can shoot up to three feet into the air

Families can celebrate National Popcorn Popping Month with a cornucopia of activities, recipes and popcorn concoctions. Some fun activities you can enjoy with your children include: 

Drive-in Movie Night

Set up a movie outdoors, either on a television set or using a projector with your garage door as a screen. Under direct adult supervision, roll out a portable fire pit for making Jiffy-Pop popcorn or using a traditional popcorn popping basket. You can also keep it simple by popping the popcorn ahead of time, but make it special by putting out a “seasoning station” — a table with a variety of seasonings and toppings — so that each child can create his or her own signature popcorn flavor.

Educational Activities

Parents and teachers can incorporate popcorn into fun (and tasty) math, science and history lessons. Children can learn about volume by experimenting with popped and un-popped popcorn to see how much is needed to fill various containers.

Popcorn can also be used for predicting and estimating exercises as well as activities that teach averages and fractions. The Popcorn Board website provides a variety of lessons that can be used in the home or at school, including growing your own popcorn plants, seed germination and comparing popcorn colors. 

Arts and Crafts

Popcorn is a fun medium for crafting 3-D art. It is easily glued to paper and can be dipped in paint or food coloring. It can be strung on a string along with a variety of O-shaped cereal to make edible necklaces and bracelets. Popcorn can be mixed in with bird seed and suet or peanut butter to form bird-feeder balls which can be hung outdoors to attract birds to your yard.

There are many traditional popcorn recipes, including popcorn balls and caramel popcorn. Here is a variation of one of the recipes shared on the Popcorn Board website, perfect for sharing at a party or storing in airtight containers for snacks:

Popcorn S’mores

You’ll need: 20 cups popped popcorn, two 10-ounce packages of mini marshmallows, four cups of teddy bear grams crackers, two cups of chocolate chips, two cups of firmly packed brown sugar, two sticks of butter, one cup corn syrup and one teaspoon of baking soda.

Mix the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium heat for five minutes, then remove from heat and add in the baking soda. In a large bowl, combine the marshmallows and popcorn. Pour in the sugar mixture, stirring as you pour to evenly coat the marshmallows and popcorn. Blend in the chocolate chips and graham cracker teddies and then spread the mixture in a greased, 5×10-inch pan. Once completely cooled, break into pieces and enjoy! Yields about 40 servings.

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. — Luke 8:11

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