Taking Popcorn Seriously, Novel Popcorn Dishes, and Popcorn, three articles from the 1897-1913 NY Times


The New York Times, February 16, 1913, p.83:


    Try popcorn some morning instead of the ordinary breakfast cereal. The chances are you will like it!
    The corn should be popped the night before, and left in the oven, or some other warm, dry place, until morning. Before serving, set the food grinder at the notch where it grinds its coarsest, and run the popcorn through. Place in a warm oven until the chopped popcorn is heated. Then serve with sugar and cream, like any other breakfast food.

    Try adding half a dozen fluffy white kernels of popcorn to each portion of soup served. These are a pretty substitute for the usual croutons, and, especially in tomato or pea soup, the color effect is attractive. Where soup is served at table a small dish of perfect kernels of popcorn can be placed near the tureen, and a few served with each portion of soup...
    Try serving a dish of buttered popcorn, with cheese, to accompany the after-dinner coffee. The men of the family will be sure to like it for a change instead of toasted crackers. For this, reject all imperfectly cooked kernels, and allow a teaspoonful of melted butter for every cup of popped corn. Pour the melted butter over the hot popcorn, and stir until every piece has a touch of the moisture. Sprinkle lightly with salt, and serve warm, with any variety of cheese preferred.

    Try "kornettes" as a novel form of wafer to serve with afternoon tea. Little cookies are made from one cup of chopped popcorn, a tablespoonful of softened butter, white of one egg, one-third of a cup of sugar, and a little salt. Flavor with a half teaspoonful of vanilla.
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    The butter is first added to the chopped popcorn, then the egg is stiffly beaten and added, then the sugar and other ingredients. Beat all together thoroughly, and drop from the tip of a teaspoon on to a buttered baking sheet. Spread with a knife dipped in cold water, and bake in a slow oven until a delicate brown.

    Where a coal range is not available, there are several ways of attempting to do corn-popping over a gas stove, but the process is never as satisfactory as when done over a bed of live coals. An iron stove lid placed over a burner of a gas range and allowed to become red hot will give sufficient heat to make the kernels burst into bloom, provided one has a little patience.
    Where gas is used in the kitchen, the furnace fire provides a splendid place for the popping of corn. With the large area of coals, the work can be done quickly and well.

The New York Times, November 16, 1913, p.SM14:


    ...Indicating the high profits that may be had in the judicious marketing of popcorn, the figures of the Government show that an outlay of between $1 and $1.50 for popcorn will produce about $30 worth of popcorn in the form of five-cent packages. Furthermore, sufficient corn to make $30 worth of five-cent packages can be grown on a piece of land 40 feet long and 20 feet wide...

    In order succeed best with popcorn for home use, it should not be left until the field and truck crops have been planted, but should be planted early, so it will have a long season in which to grow and mature. If harvested in an immature condition, it will not give as flaky and crisp popcorn balls as can be made from fully ripened corn.

    A good time to plant is when the oak trees begin to show their new leaves. A warm, well-drained location, free from marshy places, should be selected. A sandy loam, if available, is best. The soil should be plowed or spaded to a depth of eight inches or more, and the surface of the plat thoroughly pulverized before planting.

    The rows should be about three feet apart. A small furrow two or three inches deep is sufficient. The kernels should be dropped eight or ten inches apart in the row and covered to a depth of about one inch. The planting should be done before the moist soil in the furrow has had time to dry out.

    New popcorn may be used for popping as soon as it has dried out sufficiently, and if properly stored it should be ready for use by the time Christmas season rolls around.

    If old popcorn does not pop because of being too dry, the popping quality can be somewhat restored by moistening or sprinkling the corn with water, and if it is too dry for this treatment, the corn should be soaked and then spread out to dry for two or three days in the sun.

    This is the official Government way to pop popcorn to the best advantage.

    Do not take too much popcorn at one time, not more than enough to barely cover the bottom of the popper one kernel deep. Hold the popper high enough above the fire or heat to keep from burning the kernels or scorching them too quickly.

    The right degree of heat for best results in popping should make good corn begin to pop in one and one-half minutes. This should give the maximum volume increase in popping. If it begins to pop in less time, or if a large quantity of corn is put into the popper, it will not pop up so crisp and flaky.

    If it takes much longer for popping to begin, the heat is probably not great enough, or the popcorn is of poor quality, or there may be other interfering causes, such as drafts of cold air.

    To preserve the snowy whiteness of the popped kernels, the flame must be kept from striking them. This can be done by placing a piece of iron or a stove lid between the corn and the fire if a wire popper is used, or by using a pan popper if popping directly over a flame.

    If the popcorn is in first-class condtion, and the heat is properly applied, one pint of unpopped corn should give fifteen to twenty pints of popped corn.

The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1913 was equivalent to $21.73 in 2008.

The New York Times, June 6, 1897, p.18:


    In popcorn, it seems, we are to find the solution to many grave problems. Popcorn will make the whole world wealthy. The discoverer of the how and the why of this does not yet know how important is her discovery. She writes for a religious weekly, and her aim in exploiting the hitherto undreamt-of potentialities of popcorn was merely to indicate a new, entertaining, and profitable way for little boys and girls to help the missions.

    Where she lives a bushel of shelled corn costs $2.40. She has read "a statement" in another journal, not particularly religious but confessedly agricultural, that when properly popped, a bushel of corn will be increase to 540 quarts. A trustworthy popper, good enough for plain folks, can be bought for, say, 13 cents. Fire in plenty and a place to pop will, of course, cost nothing; while the retail price of popcorn ranges from 5 to 10 cents a quart. The average price, therefore, is 7 cents a quart, but let us call it 7 in order to be as moderate as possible and avoid arithmetical complications.

    Thus it will be seen that for the expenditure of $2.53, with no labor to speak of, (for there is no better fun than popping corn,) any nice little boy or girl can produce popcorn worth $37.80, a profit of $35.27.
    The little boys and girls who do this are advised to use their profits to educate and clothe bare and benighted heathen, and teach them the catechism and the use of soap. But the first thing they ought to do is to pay off the National debt, and settle fortunes upon all the poor folks who are dangerously angry because of their poverty. There will be plenty of money left for the heathen.
    For that matter we need not leave this great work of reorganizing society through the beneficent influence of popcorn to children. We can all go into the popcorn business.

    Of course there would be no excuse for making so much popcorn if there were not uses to which popcorn can be put. The modest discoverer is not silent on this point, but her revelations are somewhat vague. She says she knows how to "prepare it nicely" by stirring a little melted butter into it while warm, and then dusting it with salt; but she forgets to tell what she does with it, after she has thus nicely prepared it, though presumably it is used as some sort of weapon of offense. The butter an the salt cost money, too.

    Popcorn is said, however, to be an excellent substitute for rice, and rice, as we all know, is used in large quantities at all fashionable weddings in the Boroughs of Brooklyn, Richmond, and Queens, in which, for that matter, all weddings are fashionable.
    They used to say at a near-by Summer resort that you could always tell a boarder at a certain hotel by the whitewash on his coat. Similarly, you can always tell a Brooklyn bride by the rice imprisoned in the trimming of her traveling dress. Popcorn, we fancy, will neither stick nor sting so badly as rice. Popcorn ought also to be useful for stuffing the real hair mattresses used in seaside hotels.

    Thus we see that popcorn has its uses and the millennium is actually at hand. One thousand bushels of corn, at $2,400, popped in 1,000 poppers at $130, will make 540,000 quarts of popcorn which can be sold at a profit of $35,270. There is nothing like it. One only needs to find people to buy the popcorn at 7 cents a quart and there will be no more poverty. And you can see at a glance how easy that will be. We can all pop corn and buy it of each other.

The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1897 was equivalent to $25.82 in 2008.
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