Kettle Corn's Origin Story Goes Back Further Than You'd Think

Kettle corn in wooden bowl
Kettle corn in wooden bowl - VasiliyBudarin/Shutterstock

Kettle corn, popcorn's beloved extra-crunchy cousin, has stood the test of time because its one-two punch of salty and sweet is a winning combination. It's common kitchen knowledge that salt elevates the flavor of sugar and essentially prevents palate fatigue, so you probably won't get tired of popping handfuls of this salty-sweet snack. The treat may also evoke nostalgia for childhood visits to the county fair, where kettle corn became most popular. However, the origins of kettle corn go back a whole lot further in time and farther in distance.

The company Popcorn for the People states that 18th-century European farmers are believed to be the earliest creators of kettle corn. Whereas many Americans think of butter (or oil) and salt as traditional popcorn seasonings, these farmers cooked corn kernels in lard and sugar, which created that extra crunchy exterior and the sweetness that has become kettle corn's signature flavor profile. These farmers made their version of popcorn in cast iron kettles, hence the name. The Pennsylvania-based Best Darn Kettle Corn company reports that Dutch immigrants brought this treat to America in the late 1700s, and that their kettle corn was made in Dutch ovens and sweetened with honey. Kettle corn became a common treat at fairs and celebrations; fortunately for modern fans, it remains so today.

Read more: 12 Vegetables And Fruits That Used To Look Very Different

Go West, Young Snack Food

Person bagging kettle corn
Person bagging kettle corn - Andrew Joseph Folts/Shutterstock

Just like many immigrants, kettle corn eventually headed west. Best Darn Kettlecorn states that cowboys in the Wild West had a soft spot for this crunchy treat, often sweetening their kettle corn with honey or molasses. For the rest of the 1800s, kettle corn was a popular snack food from coast to coast, but for much of the 20th century, there wasn't as much interest in this style of popcorn.

Fortunately for modern-day snack lovers, kettle corn has made a resurgence in the past 20 years or so, which concessions-equipment company Gold Medal states may be owed in part to its being sold at Civil War reenactments and other historical events.

Today, kettle corn varieties range from classics such as caramel to new interpretations including coconut, cinnamon, and strawberry, and even spicy takes such hatch chile. You can get in on this creative process, too, with a foolproof kettle corn recipe (among several other classic fair foods you can make at home). Get creative with flavors of your own, by using an infused seasoning, like homemade smoked salt that you can make in your microwave. Whether you go old school or new gourmet, you'll be adding to a tasty history of global snacking.

Read the original article on Daily Meal