Revisited legend # 70: The Indians taught the Pilgrims how to pop corn in ~ the firstThanksgiving.

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November 27, 2016
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Another Thanksgiving legend would have actually us believe that the Indians teach the Pilgrims the magic of popcorn in ~ the very first Thanksgiving. The didn’t specifically happen that way, then or later.

While corn was common in the Americas, that doesn’t typical the natives or the homesteaders popped it. First of all, no all corn pops. Or, probably it is an ext accurate come say that not all corn mister well, only the relatively couple of varieties that have actually hard, special hulls. The form we eat has actually too slim a hull come contain the pressure important to reason a puffy explosion.

According come the room of Agriculture, there is ample evidence that aboriginal Americans in south America, central America, and the southwestern part of the U.S. Ate popcorn more than 2500 years ago. Yet no evidence exists because that it in Massachusetts or Virginia or any of the Atlantic colonies. In the archives at early american Williamsburg there room letters going back to 1950, questioning the historians that an extremely question, and also the prize has constantly been, “no recommendations to popcorn in Virginia.” together for Massachusetts, the form of corn those Indians prospered was the north Flint range which does not pop well. And according to James W. Baker, evil president and chief chronicler for Plimoth Plantation, no map of popcorn has been uncovered in local archaeological excavations.

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In his publication Popped Culture: A Social background of Popcorn in America (Smithsonian, 2001), food chronicler Andrew F. Blacksmith traces the Pilgrims-and-popcorn myth to the 1880s, a time of heavy immigration when national myths were being produced by magazines, newspapers, and also school curricula come Americanize the newcomers. “Popcorn was offered in grocery stores, popped at fairs, and peddled in ~ sporting events,” that writes the those years. Written recommendations to popcorn it seems to be ~ to start in the mid-19th century. The first known popcorn poem appeared in Harper’s magazine in 1853. It did not end up being commercially significant until the latter component of the 19th century. Look in ~ this exciting advertisement indigenous a magazine referred to as the American Agriculturist, dated February 1866. It supplies popcorn for sale as a new item. Consistent local corn must not have actually popped well, due to the fact that J. A. Hathaway imported this from Brazil and acclimated the in Cincinnati for two years. The firm offers 150 grains because that 25 cents, so you might grow her own. Gain 6 to 15 ears to the plant!

But the popcorn legend is repeated endlessly in children’s textbooks, magazines, and also newspapers. Andrew smith calls that a “twice-told myth.” “Undocumented food stories space the grist of newspapers, magazines, cookbooks, and also even works which purport to it is in true histories. Myths gain reality with repetition, and unfortunately, practically all contemporary food writers from James Beard come Waverly Root have colluded through repeating them.” he points to several popcorn myths that have no archaeological or historical evidence whatsoever: Columbus discovered popcorn in the Caribbean; American indians attached religious significance to popcorn; colonial Americans ate popcorn together a snack; and Indians in what is today the eastern half of the United claims ate popcorn in pre-Columbian times.