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Skunk Bear, NPR
Editor’s Note: It’s National Popcorn Day! We’re celebrating by bringing back this tale, first published in 2014, on the history of the beloved snack.
Popcorn is a truly ancient snack. Archaeologists have uncovered popcorn kernels that are 4,000 years old. They were so well-preserved, they could still pop.
Dolores Piperno, a paleobotanist with the Smithsonian’s Tropical Research Insitute, says corn, and specifically popcorn, helped lay the foundations for the Aztec empire.
“When you have a very highly productive crop like corn, that makes the rise of high civilizations possible,” she says.