Popcorn 101: What Is Hulless Popcorn? (And Why Regular Popcorn Is Bad For Braces)
Popcorn is a delicious snack enjoyed by a majority of people. The popularity of popcorn dates back to 1800s when it was known as a cash crop. The variety of popcorn people are generally familiar with has large kernels that leave back hard and big hull when popped. But have you heard about the hulless popcorn? What is hulless popcorn? Want to know more? Keep on reading.
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A Brief History of Popcorn
No other food can be called purely American food than the well-known popcorn. Whether we talk about the buttered, salted or caramelized popcorn at a movie theater or kettle corn at a party, Americans devour the stuff. Still, they are far from the world’s first people known to be popcorn fans. According to archeologists, they have found popcorn traces in 1000 years old Peruvian tombs.
Eager to know more about the history of popcorn? Ok, let’s dive right into it.
Popcorn was part of the first Thanksgiving feast organized in Plymouth Colony in the year 1621. According to a well-known myth, Squanto was responsible for teaching the Pilgrims how to raise and harvest the corn crop and further pop the kernels to enjoy a delicious snack.
While the Plymouth early settlers did grow the crop, they raise Northern Flint variety which was unsuitable for popping. However, no reference was made to eating or making the popcorn in that particular area appear until 1889, when a frictional work was published.
But Americans Were Not The First
Now the question rises was that if Americans weren’t the first to eat popcorn at Thanksgiving, when did it happen?
Some published work has been found that describes Iroquois popping tough corn kernels with the help of heated sand in pottery jars. As the Iroquois nation spread across the Great Lakes region, it is likely that Vermont, New York, and Quebec settlers were the earliest popcorn makers.
While popcorn was eaten by the mid-1800s, their popularity didn’t take off until 1892. During this time, the first popcorn popping machine was built by a Chicago entrepreneur named Charles Cretors. Charles was a candy store owner who wanted to offer freshly roasted nuts to his customers. For this, he purchased a peanut roaster. However, he was not happy with the end result.
Cretors designed an entirely new machine a few years down the line which was powered by steam. It could easily roast nuts and pop corns. Moreover, the steam ensured that the popcorn kernels and nuts are heated evenly. The users can pop the kernels in the desired seasonings directly.
By the year 1990, Cretors was able to design a horse-drawn popcorn wagon and this was the time when popcorn gains extreme popularity.
While popping the corns from a microwave is in trend now and not from a horse and a buggy, a patent was issued in 1981 for a microwave popcorn bag. In today’s time, Americans alone eat a large quantity of popcorn worth a million pounds.
Before we proceed ahead with the post, I would like to define the popcorn hull and what is the meaning of hulless?
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The Popcorn Hull
The popcorn hull is defined as the kernel or the seed which pops under pressure.
Upon heating, as the steam begins to build up inside the hull, the tender portion of the kernel expands. This results in the popping of the popcorn, and the end result is the inside out version of the unpopped kernels.
Moreover, as the popcorn kernels are large in size, therefore the brown and crunchy part of the kernel that stays nestled inside the fluffy part is known as the hull.
While this article is about “what is hulless popcorn” but I would also like to recommend you learn more about where do popcorn kernels come from by reading this post.
What is Hulless Popcorn?
The name hulless popcorn is a misnomer as there is no such variety of popcorn. All popcorn have hull as the hull is the seed without which popcorn cannot pop. However, in the hulless variety, the kernels are small. Thus, with smaller kernels, the hulls are tender, smaller and less visible.
There is another kind of variety available in the market known as virtually hulless popcorn. This popcorn once popped has very few hard shell-like pieces and thus are considered as virtually hulless. Hulless popcorn is the most preferred choice for popcorn lovers who wear braces or want to avoid the popcorn hull altogether.
Can I eat Popcorn With Braces?
Do you love popcorn but have got braces recently?If so, you may be wondering whether it is safe to eat popcorn or not? Well, the answer to the most commonly asked question, “Can I eat popcorn with braces?” is no.
Instead of indulging in that salty kernelled treat, you can choose alternative snacks that are great for your teeth and braces.
Why is Popcorn Bad for Braces?
Popcorn and braces are considered as an extremely bad combination. Every year, dentists receive a large number of cases of broken orthodontic appliances, brackets and wires due to popcorn. Moreover, while eating popcorn, thin husk can get stuck between the teeth and braces which are difficult to remove.
Moreover, popcorn can lead to abscess or infection if you are not careful or do not take proper care. Popcorn is also known to damage the teeth as the unpopped kernels present at the bottom of the bag are known for breaking teeth.
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Know Some Corny Facts
- Americans consume approximately 14 billion quarts of popcorn, which is considered as a good and low-calorie treat.
- There are 4 kinds of corns which are harvested – Sweet corn, flint corn, pop corn and field corn, but only popcorn pops.
- Popcorn differs from its counterparts as it has a thicker hull that is responsible for popping of the kernels.
- A popcorn kernel can pop as high as 3 feet into the air.
- Air popped kernels have only 30 calories per cup while the oil popped variety has 35 calories per cup.
- In order to pop, the kernels need to have approximately 13.5% to 14% moisture in them.
- Hulless popcorn does not exist as popcorn needs to have a hull to pop. However, there are some varieties that have been specially bred to shatter the hull upon popping and thus the end result appears virtually hulless.
- When popped, popcorn usually gain one of the two shaped – snowflake or mushroom. While the snowflake is used in ballparks and movie theater because of their bigger size, the mushroom variety is used for candy confection as it does not crumble with little pressure.
Now that you got answers to a majority of the questions, why not indulge in some delicious popcorn recipes?
Brown Butter Popcorn with Parmesan
- Kosher salt
- 1 - 1.5 cup of popcorn kernels
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Start by popping the hulless popcorn in a microwave according to the packet instructions. Next, brown the butter as browning the butter helps bring out its nutty flavor.
Start by melting the butter in a pan over medium heat and stir it till it starts to foam. Remove the butter as soon as it turns golden brown and smells nutty.
Drizzle the butter over the popcorn and sprinkle parmesan along with ¼ teaspoon salt. The parmesan adds a cheesy bite to the popcorn. Toss well.
Movie Theater Popcorn
- 1/2 - 1 cup popcorn kernels
- Flavacol (1 teaspoon per 1/2 cup un-popped kernels)
- 3 tablespoon Coconut oil
Start by measuring out the popcorn. Next, measure out Flavacol according to the recipe, you can even adjust the Flavacol according to your popper and taste. Add some popcorn oil to the pan and heat on medium heat. Further, add Flavacol and popcorn to the pan, and cover it. Let it pop as usual and enjoy delicious movie theater styled popcorn. Read more about theater style popcorn recipe here. Also, find out which are the best popcorn machine for home theater.
- Cooking spray
- 3 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
Heat the oven to 300°F and spray the baking sheet with the cooking spray.
Heat oil in a saucepan and add popcorn. Cover the pan and let the kernels pop. Transfer the popped kernels in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine butter, corn syrup and sugar.
Stir over medium heat, till the mixture begins to bubble. Stir in vanilla and salt. Switch off the heat when the mixture begins to change its color.
Pour the mixture over the popped corns and toss it to coat the corns gently. Spread the mixture on the baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, tossing in between. Remove from oven and let it cool.
You can easily prepare this delicious delight a week ahead and store it in an airtight container to keep it fresh.
Let’s Pop Some Corns
There you have it. I hope this article has helped you get an answer for, “What is hulless popcorn?” A lot of confusion prevails over different varieties of popcorn kernels. But when it comes to popcorn, the taste conquers it all. Let’s start popping some corns!