Popcorn may well be the oldest snack known to humankind, with numerous sources reporting the existence of ancient popcorn kernels in Mexican and South American caves thousands of years old. Like its early consumers, popcorn has evolved over the millennia. The puffy white clusters that have grown so popular are the result of decades of selective breeding, sporting decadent toppings or trendy flavors, and are ready-to-eat (RTE). They’ve migrated from fairs and movie theaters to upscale bars and restaurants to stores devoted entirely to—what else?—popcorn.
Despite Americans’ long history with, and love for, popcorn, the popcorn/popcorn oil category ranked last in overall dollar sales compared to our other snack categories: crackers, miscellaneous snacks (including trail mixes), snack nuts/seeds/corn nuts, salty snacks (including puffs, chips, pretzels, RTE popcorn, etc.) and frozen appetizers/snack roll—for the 52 weeks ending May 17, 2015, per IRI, Chicago. Popcorn reported $989.45 million for the period, down 2.44 percent in dollar sales.