Ever Wonder Why Some of Your Popcorn Kernels Don't Pop? Here's the Scoop.


It’s always sad when some popcorn kernels do not pop and are left to roll around on the bottom of a popcorn bowl, only to be thrown out later.

There is actually a reason that these kernels do not get to fulfill their popcorn destiny to become a fluffy snack.

The husks of kernels are actually waterproof and the insides are full of starch, according to a Business Insider video titled “Why some popcorn kernels don’t pop.”

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When popcorn is cooked, the pressure and the temperature cook the starch and the water evaporates to expand the kernel. The pressure builds up inside the husk and then the starch pops.

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The sad little kernels left behind don’t pop because the husks sprung a leak, and the water escaped while the starch was heating up.

The starch is cooked, but is trapped on the inside because of the lack of water pressure.

This tasty snack grew in popularity because of its mobility and people found the act of popping corn entertaining, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

Charles Cretor invented the first steam-powered popcorn maker which took to the streets in 1885, but movie theaters at first “wanted nothing to do with popcorn.”

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“They were trying to duplicate what was done in real theaters. They had beautiful carpets and rugs and didn’t want popcorn being ground into it,” Andrew Smith, author of “Popped Culture: A Social History of Popcorn,” said.

It wasn’t until the Great Depression that movie theaters realized that popcorn, at 5 to 10 cents a bag, was a luxury most people could afford. If there wasn’t a popcorn maker inside the theater, street vendors stood outside and sold to people entering the theater.

However, despite the popularity of this salty snack, a medium popcorn at the movies today contains 1,200 calories and 60 grams of fat, according to Dr. Axe.

The Environmental Protection Agency has also reported that microwave popcorn bags are coated with a chemical that beaks down into chemicals, like perfluorooctanoic acid, that are linked to cancer.

If popcorn is “detoxed,” Dr. Axe said, it can be healthy. This can be accomplished by popping it “old school” and picking organic kernels and natural seasonings.

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Some health benefits to detoxed popcorn is that it is high in antioxidants, it is filling so it can help with weight loss, contains 16 percent of the daily recommended fiber intake and contains manganese to support bone growth.

Though, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a bag of buttery popcorn at the movies without thinking about the health benefits.

As people across the country celebrate National Popcorn Day on Friday and more luxury theaters are offering a variety of concession foods, Hamid Hashemi, CEO of iPic Theaters, assures movie-goers the snack will never go out of style, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

“Popcorn is the cheapest thing you can make, and to a lot of people it has that ritualistic experience.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith