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Popped Culture: A Social History of Popcorn in America Paperback – March 17, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian (March 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560989211
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560989219
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,449,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am a freelance writer and speaker on culinary matters. I teach culinary history and professional food writing at the New School in Manhattan, serve as the General Editor of the Food Series at the University of Illinois Press, and am the general editor for the Edible Series at Reaktion Press in the United Kingdom. I am also the editor-in-chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia on Food and Drink in America and the Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink.

I am a member of the Culinary Historians of New York, the Association for the Study of Food Society (ASFS), and the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). I serve on the editorial board for the ASFS journal, Food, Culture and Society and is the Chairman of The Culinary Trust, the philanthropic arm of IACP.

I have delivered more than fifteen hundred presentations on various educational, historical, and international topics, and has organized seventy-three major conferences. I have been frequently interviewed by and quoted in newspapers, journals and magazines, such as the New York Times, New Yorker, Reader's Digest, Los Angeles Times, Atlanta Constitution, Chicago Tribune, Fortune Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. I have been regularly interviewed on radio and television, including National Public Radio and the Food Network. I have served as historical consultant to several television series and appeared in episodes of: the 'Food Essence,' developed by Charles Bishop Productions, Halifax, Canada; 'American Eats' and 'America Drinks,' documentaries regularly broadcast on the History Channel and A&E; 'A Century of Food,' produced by Greystone Communications, Inc., broadcast on the Food Network in January 2001; 'Follow that Food,' series by Gordon Elliot, broadcast on the Food Network; 'What We Eat,' hosted by Burt Wolf and produced by Acorn Productions, currently airing on PBS; 'Ever Wondered about Food' by the BBC; the Food Network's 'Top Five;' Burt Wolf's PBS program on 'Thanksgiving;' Tom Zapeicki's (WBGU) 'Ketchup: King of Condiments' on PBS; Meals in 1776, 1876 and the 1950s, Steve Gillion's History Center's program, 'Eating through American History,' which aired on May 21, 2006 on the History Channel; and Atlas Media's American Eats episodes on 'Salty Snacks,' 'Condiments,' 'Cookies,' 'Chocolate,' 'Canning,' 'Soft Drinks,' 'Holiday Food,' and 'Presidential Food,' which were released on History Channel during the Summer and Fall 2006.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Haschka TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 5, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Popcorn is America's gift to the world, and what a wonderful, fun-filled bequest it is."
Such is the very last line in the narrative section of POPPED CULTURE: A SOCIAL HISTORY OF POPCORN IN AMERICA. This very informative volume by Andrew Smith describes every aspect of this snack food, from its evolution on the cob in pre-historical Central and South America to 20th century "gourmet popcorn" in microwave bags.
While the book's title states this is a "social history", it seemed to me more a chronicle of the popcorn industry, especially in the United States, where popcorn was "invented", i.e. reached the citizenry's mass consciousness, in the first half of the 19th century. Smith has extensively researched every element of the saga: growers, processors, vendors, entrepreneurs, popping devices, packaging, flavoring, advertising, and target markets (both children and adults, at home and at the "movies").
Because so much of this book is a detailed narrative of the biz, it's not particularly fun, but rather like popcorn without butter and salt. There are too many passages like the following:
"... Wyandot (Popcorn Company) was sold to Vogel Popcorn, a division of Golden Valley. Golden Valley is now owned by ConAgra. ConAgra had previously purchased Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn during the mid 1970s. Jiffy Pop was sold in 1962 to American Home Products. In 1996 American Home Products was acquired by Hick, Muse, Tate and Furst, an investment firm, and it food industry management affiliate, C. Dean Metropoulos. Today Jiffy Pop and Franklin Crunch `N' Munch are part of International Home Foods, Inc., of Parsippany , New Jersey."
Why would any but the most obsessive of popcorn lovers, or business students, care?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is an entertaining addition to culinary history, debunking myths about popcorn and contributing much to the reader's knowledge with meticulously documented research. (Was popcorn served at the first Thanksgiving, or is that just popcorn lore?) It is interesting to follow the rise in the popularity of popcorn in the larger context of American social history to become a movie staple, TV companion, and microwave gourmet food. Though not intended as a cookbook, a particularly interesting section contains over 160 popcorn recipes published before 1924, including some for biscuits, bricks, stuffing, sandwiches, and more than 25 for popcorn balls alone. Anyone for a bowl of popcorn soup? Other popcorn related products are included in the history, including a significant amount of Cracker Jack coverage. It seems that Mr. Smith has left no kernel of popcorn information unpopped. Warning: It would be difficult to read this book cover to cover without stopping more than a few times to pop up a batch of popcorn; but salt and butter are optional, so enjoy devouring it in good health.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is one "cracker jack" book that I found as enjoyable and fun a read as munching a bowl of NEWMAN'S OWN or ORVILLE REDENBACHER'S while watching my favorite home video.
Every kernel of information offers insight into the relationship of this culinary delight and our larger culture. It is a very interesting look at the development and growth of popcorn as an industry and the interesting people who made it happen.
Andrew Smith is a true scholar who lets us see the larger view of the little everyday pieces that make up the mosaic of our individual lives and national culture. My favorite of his fine culinary and cultural histories, it has a lively, comfortable style that is never dry and always making you eager to turn to read the next page for yet another taste.
Well worth the time of anyone who loves popcorn, American history and culture or just a very good book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Expand your horizons and bring some excitement into your culinary life with popcorn recipes in salads, vegetables and omelets. Broaden your candy eating base with Smiths' "Popped Culture" suggestions. Andrew Smith writes well and illustrates how much popcorn is a part of our everday lives either watching movies in a theatre or at home on TV.Reading about the mania of TV popcorn in the 1950's or going back to its beginnings in the mid-19th Century is a study in American culture at its best.
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