As well as being able to pop corn kernels in a modern electric popcorn maker; or in a microwave, an oven or a frying pan, you can probably use pretty much any other method of heating up the kernels in order to make the moisture inside turn to steam so that they explode and turn inside-out.
The American Indian people would hold an ‘ear’ of corn over a fire on a stick.
Or they might throw a handful of kernels directly into the fire and wait for them to explode and fly up into the air. Some even buried the kernels in hot sand, which they stirred round and around.
As the moisture inside the kernels got hot, so the popped corn rose to the surface of the sand.
Something else we discovered when we were finding out about popcorn - using Tomie de Paola’s informative ‘The Popcorn Book’ -
was that long, long ago, the American Indian people had a legend; a story to explain the science behind what happens when popcorn kernels are heated. They said that inside each popcorn kernel lived a little man, a demon.
When his house was heated up, he got so mad…..
that he blew up.
As Shani explained, they thought, ‘when you heat popcorn, the steam is the man getting angry’.
The wonderful illustrations, by the way, are by Viivi.