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Popcorn treats great snack to celebrate national day

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January 19 happens to be National Popcorn Day. The observance is different from National Popcorn Month which is in October and Caramel Popcorn Day designated for April 7.

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No matter what the day you enjoy your hot buttered popcorn or favorite popcorn treats there are a few interesting facts worth mentioning about the savory little kernel.

Did you know:

That each kernel contains a tiny drop of water? This is why, when heated, the water expands causing the kernel to explode and flip inside out.

That popcorn consumption declined significantly during the 1950s with the invention of the television. As Americans stopped going to the movies, they stopped eating popcorn. That is, until microwave popcorn restored the snack's popularity.

That the world's oldest piece of popcorn, at 5,600 year old, was found in a bat cave in New Mexico in 1948.

That the average American eats 17 gallons of popcorn a year. As a whole, America eats 4.3 billion gallons of popcorn a year.

Some Native American tribes believed their ancestors' spirits lived within popcorn kernels. When they got angry from homes overheating, the kernels would explode leaving puffs of smoke in the air.

No matter what the statistics or beliefs, popcorn is just plain good to eat and there are a variety of ways to incorporate it into baking and cooking.

This week I'm sharing two popcorn recipes we featured over the holidays that didn't have the opportunity to show up in print at that time. Both are easy and delicious.

If you can no longer find candy canes to use in the first one, just substitute comparable amount of the little round peppermint candies.

Until next time, from my kitchen to yours, happy cooking!

Candy Cane Popcorn

Ingredients

16 ounces vanilla almond bark (see note)

12 peppermint candy canes, crushed in a food processor to fine crumbs

(or by hand)

8 cups popped popcorn

Place popcorn in a very large bowl.

Melt almond bark according to package directions.

Stir 1/2 cup of the crushed candy canes into the melted bark and pour over the popcorn. Stir thoroughly coating popcorn while sprinkling with remaining crushed candy canes.

Lay popcorn on a parchment lined cookie sheet to cool. Break into pieces and enjoy.

Caramel Popcorn

3 bags buttered and salted popcorn, popped (remove any kernels) unpopped

3/4 cup butter

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/4 + 1/8 cup light corn syrup

1/4 + 1/8 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.In a medium saucepan, melt together the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil over low heat for five minutes. Remove from heat and add the baking soda and vanilla.

Place the popcorn in a large baking pan coated with cooking spray. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss to coat.

Bake for 45 minutes, stirring with a spatula coated with cooking spray every 15 minutes. Cool completely before serving

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