Goatview Farm - The Saint Report www.goatview.com

September 6

Popcorn Events and Popcorn History

The 23rd annual Marion (Ohio) Popcorn Festival will be held the first weekend after Labor Day. Of course, there is a Miss Popcorn, a Miss Teeny Pop, and just to get the little tykes started right, a competition for Wee Pops: "Categories for formalwear, sportswear, and swimwear with a popcorn theme were divided into three age groups: 6 - 17 months, 18 - 34 months, and 35 - 48 months." I haven't seen the lineup for this year (2003), but last year The Platters were there to entertain and some guy with a mullet, Joe Diffie.

Saints o' the day include, but are not limited to, Saint Donatian, Saint Laetus et. al., Saint Eleutherius, Saint Chainoaldus, and Saint Bee.
Famous birthday: Jane Curtin (1947, Cambridge, Mass.). Other famous people share her birthday, but not on the Saint Report.

On September 6, the Valparaiso (Indiana) Popcorn Fest gets underway. Since Marion has tied up the title of Miss Popcorn, they had to settle for Popcorn Queen. And instead of having Wee Pops, they have a simple Cutest Baby contest. You can be a loser at a very early age in the Midwest, apparently. No famous entertainment at this one, but a lot of food. I never heard of an all-you-can-eat pepper steak dinner before.

Ok, now on to the more academic side of popcorn:

No popcorn for Miles and Pricilla: About 25 years ago, I read a cute children's book by Tomie dePaola called The Popcorn Book. In it, Mr. dePaola contended that the first Thanksgiving included popcorn. LIES! ALL LIES! According to the site that is the last word on the first Thanksgiving, this was a myth started by, of all people, Jane Austen.

Popcorn and the Birth of the Microwave Oven: This has been taken directly from http://www.gallawa.com/microtech/history.html:

Like many of today's great inventions, the microwave oven was a by-product of another technology. It was during a radar-related research project around 1946 that Dr. Percy Spencer, a self-taught engineer with the Raytheon Corporation, noticed something very unusual. He was testing a new vacuum tube called a magnetron (we are searching for a picture of an actual 1946 magnetron), when he discovered that the candy bar in his pocket had melted.

This intrigued Dr. Spencer, so he tried another experiment. This time he placed some popcorn kernels near the tube and, perhaps standing a little farther away, he watched with an inventive sparkle in his eye as the popcorn sputtered, cracked and popped all over his lab.

The next morning, Scientist Spencer decided to put the magnetron tube near an egg. Spencer was joined by a curious colleague, and they both watched as the egg began to tremor and quake. The rapid temperature rise within the egg was causing tremendous internal pressure. Evidently the curious colleague moved in for a closer look just as the egg exploded and splattered hot yoke all over his amazed face. The face of Spencer lit up with a logical scientific conclusion: the melted candy bar, the popcorn, and now the exploding egg, were all attributable to exposure to low-density microwave energy. Thus, if an egg can be cooked that quickly, why not other foods? Experimentation began...

Dr. Spencer fashioned a metal box with an opening into which he fed microwave power. The energy entering the box was unable to escape, thereby creating a higher density electromagnetic field. When food was placed in the box and microwave energy fed in, the temperature of the food rose very rapidly. Dr. Spencer had invented what was to revolutionize cooking, and form the basis of a multimillion dollar industry, the microwave oven.

This story made me feel faint. If the microwaves were doing that to the egg, what the heck were they doing to the scientists????? Oh well. I have an affordable machine that can make me a good dinner in 5 minutes. Who cares about Percy?

History: I don't remember exactly what The Popcorn Book said by about the oldest known popcorn, but I found this on line and it seems accurate:

"The oldest ears of popcorn that have been found by archaeologists were found in a bat cave in west central New Mexico by Herbert W. Dick during his 1948 & 1950 expeditions. Ranging from smaller than a penny to about 2", the oldest bat cave ears of corn have been carbon dated to be about 5,600 years old, upsetting the old theory of popcorn originating in Peru about 1,000 B.C."

For more interesting facts, I suggest popcorn.org, whom I am going to have to educate regarding the first Thanksgiving:

Dear Popcorn People,

I am afraid you are wrong about popcorn being served at the first Thanksgiving. Please take a look at this site:

http://www.plimoth.org/Library/Thanksgiving/nopopc.htm

You don't want all the good information on your site questioned by perpetuating a myth!

Thanks,

Marilyn Jones

What do you want to bet they send me a bunch of coupons and stuff and leave the site exactly the way it is?

Update: They never answered at all. There are those who prefer a good story to the truth, bless 'em.

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Marilyn Jones 2000-2008