Oh the smell of freshly popped popcorn – you can almost taste the deliciousness in the air! Whether you prefer your popcorn salty or sweet, it’s coming for you because January 19 is National Popcorn Day. And in honor of this glorious holiday, we’ve rounded up the best ways to celebrate nature’s deliciously light, fun-filled snack. Read on for the pop-tastic deets.

photo: Jennifer Davis

Did you know that popcorn was once considered a breakfast food? Just like cereal, kids and adults alike gobbled it up from bowls topped with milk. And according to the folks at The Popcorn Board, the oldest ears of popcorn ever found were discovered in New Mexico and are thought to be 4,000 years old!

Play with Popcorn
More than just a historically tasty (and reasonably healthy) snack, popcorn works great in craft and games. Beyond the classic popcorn-on a-string (complete with cranberries in winter or strung plain and hung outside for the birds during the spring and fall months) and the ever-popular popcorn ball (aka the tasty treat, birthday favor or holiday delight), there are a million and two (we counted) crafts and fun kid-centric projects you can do with a serving of the good stuff.

Here’s a few to get you going:

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1. Fill a jar with kernels or popped corn and play Guess How Many?

2. Stuff popcorn in clear plastic gloves for fun corn hands, especially creepy at Halloween with candy corn fingernails.

3. Color your corn. Use food coloring, natural ingredients like beet juice or blueberries, watercolor paint (but don’t eat!) or eatable food coloring spray for extra fun!

4. Make themed popcorn: blue, white and yellow (throw in some eyes) and you’ve got Minions. Go all blue for Cookie monster popcorn or use a mix of blue and green popcorn for your own 12th man-themed mix. You get the idea!

5. After you’ve colored it, glue it on a page and make a popcorn tree—complete with leaves and branches.

6. Relay race: Fill a small plastic cup full of popcorn and place it on the top of each foot. Now race your opponent to the other side of the room, trying not to spill.

photo: ohnuts.com

Learning with Popcorn
Not only can you eat and craft with popcorn, there are easy ways to make learning with popcorn entertaining for the Littles. Use the kernels as a counting tool. Order by 5s or 10s, and practice counting. You can also review the science of how the kernels expand when popped. Put 30 kernels in a cup and then try to fit 30 popped pieces in the same cup. Voilia – science! Or try making three groups of kernels. Soak some in water, some in vegetable oil and leave one group alone. Now pop all three and determine if/how it changes the finished popcorn’s flavor, texture, appearance, etc. For bigger kids, have them plant two popcorn seeds, two pea seeds and two bean seeds in a large glass jar. Watch how they all grow, differently! Psst…no two seeds are alike, and popcorn plants look different from pea plants.

photo Jennifer Davis

Where to Buy the Best Popcorn in Town
Beyond your local movie theater, there are a few popcorn-specific spots around the city that dish out the best these little kernels have to offer. Creatively named, KuKuRuZa has locations in both Bellevue Square and Seattle (on Pike just a few blocks from the market) and sells a creative variety of flavored popcorn. Truffle Formage Porcini along with Hawaiian Salted Carmel and even 12th Man flavors are guaranteed to delight cultured palates. But don’t forget about the tried and true classics like Caramel, Cheddar, Brown Butter & Salt and even Salt & Vinegar. Grab a taste, a small bag or a huge variety tin—the options to please your taste buds are endless.

Good to Know: The Popcorn Chef, on 5th and Marion, offers a variety of tasty popcorn treats, gifts and more. And a chocolate lover’s fave, Seattle Fudge (located inside The Armory at the Seattle Center), and other specialty chocolate and candy stores around town also carry this whimsical, yet classic treat.

photo: Jennifer Davis

Make Your Own
Beyond butter and salt, popcorn is the best vehicle for other flavors – you can get wild n’ crazy with things like Sriracha or Tabasco, or decadently sweet with M&Ms, white chocolate drizzle, marshmallows and graham crackers—the possibilities are endless. If you still need more ideas, check out these unique popcorn recipes.

photo: The Melrose Family website

There are so many creative, tasty, kid-pleasing treats and activities surrounding popcorn – let’s celebrate these kernels every day!

Do you have a favorite popcorn recipe? Where is your favorite place to buy a bag (or two)?  Dish in the comments below!

— Jennifer B. Davis

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