Its National Popcorn Poppin Month

October is National Popcorn Poppin' Month, a time to honor America's favorite magical, munchable maize. You seldom need an excuse to grab a handful of these simple kernels of goodness, but a month-long celebration is reason enough to try new recipes. Whether you make it plain or pumped up, you'll join your fellow Americans in consuming some 16 billion quarts this year.

October is chosen because it marks the triumphant end to the labor of the spring and summer months. As farmers head into the fields to gather the crops, families and friends gather to celebrate this beloved snack food.

Why do we love popcorn? How can we not? Popcorn is the fun food we eat when we're happy. It's the surprise food with "before" and "after" pictures that would make a Hollywood starlet cry for a makeover. It's the science experiment food that entertains and educates. It's the simple pleasures food that reminds us to slow down. And it's the economical food costing mere pennies per serving.

Popcorn also is a whole grain, providing carbohydrates and fiber to the diet and is naturally low in fat and calories. It's an ideal in-between meals snack because it satisfies but doesn't spoil your appetite.

Yet when all is said and done, popcorn is simply a great-tasting food. Surprise your family and friends with a popcorn treat today in honor of National Popcorn Poppin' Month.

Maple Pumpkin

Spice Popcorn

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

11/2 tsp. pumpkin spice mix

1 Tbsp. butter or margarine

1/2 cup chopped pecans

5 cups popped popcorn

In a large pan, heat brown sugar, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice mix over medium heat. Cook, stirring, 3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and mixture is bubbling. Stir in butter until melted and well blended. Add pecans, if desired, and popcorn and stir until well coated.

Allow mixture to cool. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.

Yield: 5 cups

Perfect Popcorn Popping Tips

• Warm a heavy pan with lid. Add 1/4 cup of vegetable oil to the pan, or just enough to cover the bottom.

• Drop in two or three kernels and cover. When the kernels pop, add the remaining popcorn. Pour just enough kernels to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover with the lid.

• Shake the pan while the kernels heat and pop. Occasionally lift the lid slightly to allow steam to escape. When you hear the last few pops, remove the pan from the heat, take off the lid and empty the popped popcorn into a large bowl.

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About The Author, Wendy Mitchell
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