Test your knowledge of one of America’s oldest snacks. Fear not; we’re not keeping score. This is pure and simple entertainment.

1. The average American eats how much popcorn each year?

a. 51 cups

b. 51 pints

c. 51 quarts

d. 51 gallons

2. “Zea Mays Everta” is what?

a. The motto (in Latin) of Popcorn University, meaning “Long Live Popcorn.”

b. Popcorn’s scientific name

c. The name of the woman who discovered popcorn

d. A Native American reference for popcorn

3. The world’s first mobile popcorn machine weighed 400 to 500 pounds and was often pulled by a…

a. Young boy

b. Large dog

c. Tractor

d. Circus elephant

4. Popcorn explodes when …

a. The water inside is superheated and turns the starch to a gelatinized goop

b. The gelatinized goop reaches about 347 degrees

c. The pressure inside the kernel reaches about 135 pounds per square inch

d. All of the above

5. Popcorn grows on a stalk, which has several of these growing on it.

a. Eyes

b. Ears

c. Heads

d. Arms

6. How big are popcorn kernels after they pop?

a. 2 to 3 times the original size

b. 10 times the original size

c. 20 times the original size

d. 35–40 times the original size

7. Long before the advent of the cornflake, Ella Kellogg ate popcorn ground with milk or cream for breakfast.

a. True

b. False

8. There are six types of corn:

a. Popcorn, sweet, dent, flint, pod, field

b. Popcorn, sweet, ground, field, Indian, dent

c. Popcorn, sweet, dent, flint, flour, pod

d. Popcorn, sweet, field, ground, flint, pod

9. Popcorn kernels need how much moisture to pop?

a. 10–12% water

b. 13.5–14% water

c. 18.5–20% water

d. 20% water

10. If you dry kernels of sweet corn, they will pop just like popcorn when heated.

a. True

b. False

11. Popcorn is a…

a. Carbohydrate

b. Fiber source

c. Whole grain

d. All of the above

12. In 1945, an engineer named Percy Spencer used popcorn in his efforts to develop this:

a. Television

b. Popcorn popper

c. Microwave oven

d. Air freshener

13. Air-popped popcorn has how many calories per cup?

a. 31 calories

b. 41 calories

c. 51 calories

d. 61 calories

14. One of the earliest methods of popping popcorn involved:

a. Wrapping kernels in layers of animal fat and placing in a clay pot over an open flame

b. Placing kernels in a covered pot in the hot sun to warm for several hours

c. Wrapping heated stones and kernels together in an animal skin

d. Mixing unpopped kernels with extremely hot sand

15. When a popcorn kernel is heated, the hard outer surface acts like what kitchen appliance?

a. Pressure cooker

b. Blender

c. Microwave

d. Food processor


1. c. Americans eat 16 billion quarts per year, which comes out to roughly 51 quarts per man, woman and child.

2. b

3. a

4. d

5. b

6. d. On average, popped popcorn takes up 37 times more room than unpopped popcorn. If you covered Oregon with a layer of kernels and then popped them, they would cover the entire United States.

7. a. Ella and her husband, John Harvey Kellogg, both thought popcorn was an “excellent” food and “easily digestible and to the highest degree wholesome, presenting the grain in its entirety, and hence superior to many denatured breakfast foods which are found in the market.”

8. c. The three most common are dent/field, sweet and popcorn. Flint, also known as Indian corn, and pod are commonly used as decoration.

9. b. Without this amount, popcorn will not pop.

10. b. The hull of sweet corn is too soft and would not withstand the pressure of being heated long enough to allow the corn to pop.

11. d

12. c. After WWII, Spencer was looking for ways to use microwave technology. He supposedly had a chocolate candy bar in his pocket that melted during his experiments with microwaves. On a hunch, he took popcorn kernels, placed them in the microwaves and watched them pop. The rest is history.

13. a. Popcorn is low in fat and calories, and it contains no artificial colors, preservatives or added sugar. Even oil-popped popcorn contains only 55 calories per cup.

14. d. This method is still used in India. Surprisingly, the sand doesn’t stick to the popcorn. A little shaking and it’s ready to eat.

15. a. The popcorn kernel is tough enough to withstand the exact amount of pressure needed for the water inside each kernel to heat, expand and gelatinize the starch. At just the right moment, the hull finally bursts open, the gelatinized starch spills out and immediately cools into the familiar shape.


Sources: Ella E. Kellogg, “Science in the Kitchen” (Battle Creek, Michigan: Health Publishing Company, 1892), 104, 330; John Harvey Kellogg, “The New Dietetics: A Guide to Scientific Feeding in Health and Disease,” revised edition (Battle Creek: Modern Medicine Publishing Co., 1927).

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