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How Popcorn Pops

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Popcorn is a tasty addition to any movie night but it's also an example of some pretty cool science. Check it out!

How Popcorn Pops - The Wet Truth

Although popcorn kernals may look totally dry, each kernel of popcorn actually has a tiny amount of water inside it. This water is stored inside a circle of soft starch inside the kernel's hard outer surface. As the kernel heats up, the water's molecules start to move faster and get farther away from each other; this molecular expansion is the same reason water turns into steam when you boil it. As the water expands it puts pressure against the hard starch. Something's gotta give - so eventually the water pressure wins out and the popcorn ruptures. The soft starch inside becomes inflated and bursts, flipping the kernel inside out to release the steam inside! Mmmm, popcorn!

Popping corn on the cobPopping corn on the cobCourtesy of Thompsons Limited
 

Popcorn - Did U Know?

  • Don't freeze popcorn or keep it in the fridge. This dries out your kernels and without moisture there won't be any poppin'.
  • Those kernels you find at the bottom of the bowl that failed to pop are called old maids. They were too dry to have any pop left in them.
  • The English colonists were introduced to popcorn at the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621 when Quadequina, brother of Wampanoag chief Massasoit, brought a deerskin bag of popped popcorn to dinner as a gift.
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