Michigan’s Mom and “Pop” Corn Farms
The year was 1948. The place, a bat cave in west central New Mexico. The find:
4,000 year old ears of popcorn. According to popcorn.org, the ears were 'smaller than a penny to about 2 inches'.
Some experts believe the first use for corn was for popping. Popcorn was integral to some Aztec Ceremonies, it decorates homes during holidays, during the Depression popcorn was one of very few luxuries hard hit families could afford. In fact sales increased during the Depression thanks to its introduction into movie theaters in the late 1920s.
In the 1950s television took it's toll on movie audiences and popcorn sales. At this time not a lot of people ate popcorn at home. Little did popcorn farmers know that an invention created in 1946 would lead to their crop seeing an increase in demand in the early 1980s.
Thanks to the microwave and the VCR, movie nights at home would now feel even more like a night at the theater. Movie rental stores even sold microwavable bags and boxes of candy that looked just like the stuff under the glass at the concession stand.
Today this delicious treat has moved into the world of gourmet. Boutique popcorn shops have popped up across the country, offering kernels drizzled with varying delights or coated with sea-salt and chocolate.
It may come as no surprise that nearly 25% of the the corn used for popping is grown in Nebraska, with the other major production states being Illinois, Ohio and Missouri according to the USDA.
Michigan is home to some popcorn farms however, including one of NCG Cinema's suppliers. Being shaped like a Mitten, Michigan was made to grow a snack that is enjoyed by the handful! Here's a look at The Great Lakes State's popcorn growers:
Located in Durand, MI, I'm All Ears currently offers 35lb bags of butterfly popcorn kernels that offer extra large expansion. This operation boasts being a supplier of NCG Cinemas and ensures 'the highest quality standard' thanks to their top of the line equipment.
A generational farm, 8 thus far, Shumway Farms has called Tekonsha, MI home since 1956. According to their website, the first year they started grown popcorn was 1991 and since then, their popcorn "ranks highly in pop-ability and grades even higher in kernel quality". A commercial supplier, Shumway Farms Theater Style Popcorn delivers in Michigan and Indiana and offers worldwide shipping.
Bur Oaks Farm
Bur Oaks Farms is located in Ann Arbor and has been operated by the same couple since 1982. Unlike I'm All Ears and Shumway Farms, consumers can purchase their small batch product on their website and select retailers. The Bur Oaks Red variety isn't commonly grown, but according to their website:
people are always drawn to its rich red color. The real reason to pop Bur Oaks Red Corn, though, is its more flavorful taste, and its exceedingly tender texture
Whether you air pop, stove top, pop in oil or in the microwave, the next buttery bite you enjoy could have been grown right here in Michigan!
MORE: The Top 8 Faygo Flavors