While the exact discoverer of popcorn isn't known, Michigan State University says that this snack likely originated in the Americas, with Mexico being the likely site of its first growth. The university also says that China and India used popcorn prior to Columbus' voyage to the New World in 1492.
There is evidence that humans have been enjoying popcorn for thousands of years. Radio-carbon dating of popcorn found in a New Mexico cave dates back more than 5,000 years, and researchers have determined that popcorn samples found in Utah date back more than 1,000 years. Although it has an ancient history on the North American continent, popcorn only gained widespread popularity in modern U.S. culture in the late 1800s.
The Spanish explorers and conquerors Columbus and Cortes brought awareness of popcorn to Europe thanks to their travels to the Americas. Each explorer observed popcorn being used not only as a food but also as ornamentation. Popcorn's enduring popularity makes sense. It is a cost-effective and healthy snack that's also interesting to make. Popcorn is considered a whole grain thanks to the fact that it makes use of the whole kernel of corn. It's also a low-calorie, shelf-stable snack that delivers nutrients and fiber.