We bet you didn’t know popcorn was used as a breakfast food! The evolution of popcorn has changed throughout the years, from early Native Americans grinding corn into a powder, to the delicious movie theatre treat we’ve come to know today. Yet before we came to view popcorn as a snack reserved for sporting events and movie nights, it was originally used as a breakfast meal in Colonial America. In the mornings, popcorn would be served in a bowl with cream and sugar, eaten as we would with modern-day cereal. It is said that popcorn inspired cereal as we know it, although it was replaced with alternatives that would soak up milk better, such as cornflakes and puffed rice.
Despite the fact popcorn is not a popular breakfast food today, that wasn’t the case in the past. Many nineteenth-century Americans had plenty of praise to give popcorn cereal. George Stockwell, a 19th-century grocer exclaimed, “If any person lives who has never eaten popcorn and milk, or better, popcorn and cream, he or she has missed one of the great luxuries- one of the daintiest luxuries of life.” Enjoyed by children and adults alike, it was often submerged in milk, cream, and sugar, occasionally topped with fresh fruit, nuts, and cinnamon. Other times, it was ground up into hot water and served like oatmeal.
We can’t help but ask, if popcorn as a breakfast cereal was so popular in the past, what prevented it from catching on? There are multiple theories behind this cause, for one, popcorn was such a common and easy meal to prepare, many cereal companies were afraid consumers would prefer to make it themselves. Secondly, popcorn was best enjoyed fresh, and it was unsure how people would react to it being held in boxes for months or even years. As the great American cereal revolution kicked off, popcorn was left in the dust, failing to incorporate the promotional campaigns other cereals had embraced.
Despite its unsuccessful attempt at becoming a commercial breakfast food, popcorn continued to stay in use as a form of breakfast. After World War II ended, a large portion of grains was sent to Europe in an attempt to prevent starvation, allowing popcorn to arise as a temporary cereal alternative. Throughout the years, breakfast popcorn surged in and out of the public eye, as prominent figures such as Larry Kusche and Orville Redenbacher released popcorn breakfast recipes such as “overnight popcorn cereal” or “Sweet ‘n’ Crunchy Cereal Snack.”
What do you think of popcorn as a breakfast meal? Are you interested in trying it for yourself? Grab a bowl of one of our gourmet popcorn flavors such as Stop, Drop, Cinnamon Roll or Capitol Caramel, gently pour a bit of milk over the top and spice it up with some dried fruit or nuts. We’re eager to see what you think!