History of Microwave Popcorn
Popcorn was actually the first food to be microwaved deliberately. In 1946 Dr. Percy Spencer of the Raytheon Corporation was experimenting with a magnetron (a new type of vacuum tube) when he noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket had melted. He was curious, so he placed some popcorn kernels next to the magnetron and turned it on - the popcorn popped. After experimenting with various other food items (including an egg that exploded!), he and Raytheon realized they were on to something and continued on to develop the first microwave oven.
Microwave popcorn - the very first use of microwave heating in the 1940s - had accounted for $240 million in annual U.S. popcorn sales in the 1990s. Today, more than 80% of U.S. consumers' households own microwaves - that is over 73 million microwaves in homes alone! Outside of the home, people of all ages enjoy the taste of warm, freshly popped popcorn, too. With the time and preparation convenience microwavable popcorn offers, you can see popcorn 'poppin' up' as an afternoon snack at work or after school, and in dormitories and hotel rooms. Microwavable popcorn also comes in a wide-variety of flavors including lowfat, extra butter, and gourmet to satisfy all appetites.
Americans today consume 17 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year. The average American eats about 60-70 quarts. However, the United States is not just a land of popcorn lovers - it is also the land of popcorn. Nearly all of the world's popcorn production is in the United States, with 25 states growing the crop. Over one fourth of the national production is in Nebraska, and Indiana produces only slightly less. Other major popcorn-producing states are Illinois, Ohio, and Missouri.