January 19 – National Popcorn Day

Happy Popcorn Day!

818196The Huckabuck Family and How They Raised Popcorn in Nebraska and Quit and Came Back written by Carl Sandburg and illustrated by David Small (1999)

The Huckabuck family all had double first names, Jonas Jonas Huckabuck was the father, Mama Mama was his wife, and Pony Pony was his daughter. They lived in Nebraska and grew popcorn. One harvest, Jonas Jonas had enough popcorn to feed everyone in the country. And that same harvest, Pony Pony was going to make her first squash pie. When Pony Pony cut open the squash, she found a Chinese silver slipper buckle. Her parents told her it meant her luck was going to change, but they didn’t know if it was going to change from bad to good or good to bad. The next day, a fire in the barn set all the popcorn popping. It popped so high, that Jonas Jonas Huckabuck decided to move away until it was all gone. They moved to Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois. Then one harvest three years later, Pony Pony cut open another squash to make a pie, and found a match to the Chinese silver slipper buckle she had found in Nebraska. The Huckabucks decided it was a sign to return to their farm in Nebraska. When they got there, all the popcorn had blown away. Jonas Jonas decided to raise cabbages, beets, turnips, squash, rutabaga, pumpkins, peppers, wheat, oats, barley, rye, and Indian corn… but they were never going to raise popcorn again!

 2597145Popcorn at the Palace written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully (1997)

Based on real events, this is the story of Maisie Ferris and her father, Olmsted. The Ferris family moved to Illinois as part of Reverand Gale’s congregation forming a new town called Galesbug. But Maisie’s family was a little different, they had more than only the Bible in their house and were interested in trying new things. One of the new things they tried was growing popcorn instead of regular corn. Then one day a journalist from England came to Galesburg to report on how the pioneers were doing. He noticed the popcorn fields and asked about them. Maisie convinced her father to take some popcorn to England. She wanted to meet Queen Victoria. Her father agreed it was a fine idea, and they traveled to England to teach people about popcorn. It was such a hit, that the queen herself invited them to the palace. The queen was delighted with the popcorn. After the presentation, she gave Maisie a French wax doll to replace her cornhusk doll. Maisie named the doll Victoria II and it has stayed in her family for several generations. Maisie’s father sent Prince Albert several barrels of popcorn and some Illinois soil to grow it in, but popcorn never had the same popularity in England as it did in the United States.


The Popcorn Book written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola (1978)

 Tony and Tiny want to make popcorn. Tony does all the work while Tiny reads information about popcorn to him. As the popcorn cooks, we learn that popcorn was discovered by the American Indian people thousands of years ago. Archeologists found some popped corn in a cave in New Mexico that was 5,600 years old. There was even some 1000 year old popcorn kernels found in Peru that could still be popped. The Iroquois popped the kernels in clay pots filled with hot sand. The Algonkians brought popcorn to the first Thanksgiving dinner. There’s even an Indian legend that a little demon lives inside each kernel. And that when his house gets too hot, he gets so mad that he blows up! Another funny story is a tall tale from the midwest, that says one summer it was so hot that all the popcorn in the fields exploded. There was so much popcorn on the ground that it looked like a blizzard and the people went outside in coats, and hats, and scarves to shovel up the popcorn. Finally, Tony is done popping, but he has a small blizzard too. It’s a good thing the boys like to eat popcorn!

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