Popcorn is at the top of the list as one of the more popular snacks, and it has been for years. And if you make it correctly, it can be a fun, crunchy and healthy snack for your flock. I don’t use butter at all when I make it for my African greys. A little flax seed oil or coconut oil in the bottom of a cooking kettle to prevent sticking and burning is just fine. And of course, skip the salt.
The microwaveable popcorn that comes already salted and with oil already in the bag is to be avoided. You will want to use a healthy oil when you make popcorn for your birds. Using healthy ingredients mixed into other ingredients is a nutritional layering concept where the birds get the popcorn but are also getting a little bit of flax seed oil which is healthy for them. Your birds may be going for the popcorn, but they are getting the benefit of a healthy fat.
If you prefer using an air popper to pop your corn, as it uses nothing but hot air to pop the corn, that is just fine. No salt, no butter, healthy oil and a good quality popcorn is the way to go with this fun snack for your birds.
My African greys enjoy popcorn now and then as a small snack. I like to make it, and I get a kick out of watching them pick up a kernel of popped puffy corn and hold it in their feet while they gnaw away at this enriching, chewable treat. So if you and your birds are in the mood for some popcorn, share this anytime snack with them. You’ll both have fun, and you can share it.
Origins of Popcorn
Where did our love of popcorn come from? It originated in Mexico centuries ago. It initially was a domesticated grass, and over time, it was developed into what we now see every day in the grocery store or the bulk bin at the farmer’s market.
In the 1800s, people would pour popped corn into a bowl, cover it with milk and sprinkle on a bit of sugar and have it for breakfast just as people eat corn flakes today.
It was also loved during the Great Depression. If you had a nickel, you could get a bag of popcorn and to share with your friends. Popcorn had another uptick in its popularity during World War ll due to sugar rations that were in place. Sugary foods were either scarce or impossible to find because of the lack of ration coupons needed to obtain them. Plain popcorn didn’t need sugar. And so it once again became popular with the American public to the point where they were consuming more of it than they did before the war.
After that, people couldn’t seem to leave well enough alone apparently. Manufacturers began trying out other snack applications for popcorn, and we now have Cracker Jacks, the perennial popcorn balls at Halloween. Caramel corn seems to be a chronically favorite item in airports. And people make popcorn strings and put it on their Christmas trees as a festive garland. Some companies even tried using it as a packaging material but mice and rats found this irresistible, and they discovered that this was a colossal mistake and finally resorted to inventing styrofoam packing peanuts.
How Does Popcorn Pop?
Just like many other grains such as amaranth, quinoa, and millet, popcorn contains water. But the hull of this particular kernel is moisture-proof. This is why it lasts almost indefinitely if you store it correctly.
This moisture-proof feature gives it another ability. This trapped moisture is what causes that popping behavior. The water inside the hull heats up and turns to steam. The steam that has built up inside the kernel has to go somewhere and not unlike a pressure cooker with no pressure gauge, the steam bursts through the hull which essentially turns the hull inside out exposing the interior. While it is heating and turning to steam inside the kernel, it softens the interior starches.
The sudden exposure to the rapid expansion of the hull stiffens the starch which gives it that crunchy yet tender texture.
Tell us: Does your bird love popcorn? Let us know in the comments.