Illinois State Snackfood


Illinois State Snackfood: Popcorn

(Z. m. everta)

Adopted on January 1, 2004.

Second and third grade students and their teacher, Fran Hollister, at Cunningham Elementary in Joliet proposed popcorn and were sponsored by State Senator Larry Walsh.

On February 8, 2003, Senators Lawrence M. Walsh, 43rd District, Louis S. Viverito, 11th District, Mattie Hunter, 3rd District, and Representative Jack McGuire, 86th District, sponsored Senate Bill 0185 that would designate Popcorn as the Official State Snackfood of Illinois. This bill was passed and approved by the Governor on August 4, 2003 to be effective on January 1, 2004.

Illinois State Snackfood: Popcorn

Illinois State Snackfood: Popcorn

A variety of corn, Zea mays everta, having hard kernels that burst to form white, irregularly shaped puffs when heated. Popcorn pops because its kernel contains a small drop of water that suddenly expands when exposed to high heat. The kernel turns inside-out as it explodes.

There are 333 Illinois farms that grow popcorn on 47,000 acres, making Illinois the third largest grower of the product.

Corn probably originated in Mexico about 5,000 years ago, though it was also used in China and India hundreds of years before Columbus reached the Americas.. It is estimated that Native Americans in Illinois started growing corn about 100 A.D.

Archaeologists have found 80,000-year-old corn pollen below Mexico City. Because this pollen is almost exactly the same as modern popcorn pollen, researchers believe that "cave people" most likely had popcorn.

The oldest popcorn ever found was discovered in the "Bat Cave" of central New Mexico. It is thought to be about 5,600 years old. In tombs in Peru, archaeologists found ancient kernels of popcorn that are so well preserved that they can still pop.

Illinois Law

The law designating the popcorn as the official Illinois state snackfood is found in the Illinois Compiled Statutes, Government, Chapter 5, State Designations Act, Section 80.

5 ILCS 460/ - State Designations Act.

(5 ILCS 460/1) (from Ch. 1, par. 2901-1)
Sec. 1. This Act may be cited as the State Designations Act.
(Source: P.A. 87-273.)

5 ILCS 460/80

(5 ILCS 460/80)
Sec. 80. State snackfood. Popcorn is designated the official State snackfood of the State of Illinois.
(Source: P.A. 93-410, eff. 1-1-04.)

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Popcorn

Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
    Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
    Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
    Subclass: Commelinidae
Order: Cyperales
Family: Poaceae ⁄ Gramineae – Grass family
Genus: Zea L. – corn
Species: Zea mays L. – corn
    Subspecies Zea mays L. ssp. mays – corn
    Subspecies: Z. m. everta

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