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Good poppin'

Popcorn is America's favorite snack. (Adobe Images)

Popcorn is America's favorite snack. (Adobe Images)

What snack do Americans eat most?

If you guessed popcorn, you guessed correctly.

Americans eat enough popcorn each year to fill up the Empire State Building 18 times, which translates into 17 billion quarts. We eat more popcorn by volume than any other snack, so there’s some serious poppin’ goin’ on out there!

Popcorn hasn’t always been a snack food though. Originally it was served as a cereal for a hearty breakfast, and for good reason. Popcorn has more protein than any other cereal grain and more iron than eggs or roast beef. It is 100 percent whole grain and is high in fiber and rich in antioxidants. It helps to build bones and muscle tissue, and aids in digestion. Of course, the more butter you add the less nutrition it has, but hey, we can’t have everything, right?

Over 8,000 years ago maize was cultivated from teosinte, which is a wild grass. Popcorn is one of six maize types; pod corn, sweet corn, flour corn, dent corn, flint and popcorn. But popcorn is the only one that pops.

What sets popcorn aside from the other types of maize is the unique composition of the kernel. The kernel consists of a hard outer shell called the pericarp and the inside consists of water and soft starch granules. When the popcorn is heated, the soft starch and water vaporizes building up pressure until it explodes into the puffy clouds of heaven we all know and love. It’s the perfect mobile snack.

You probably thought you would be spared a popcorny joke, but you were wrong.

What type of amphibian lives in a corn field? A corned toad.