Getting Nerdy: The Chemistry of Popcorn

how does popcorn pop science

🎶What’s a popcorn kernel and why does it… pop🎶- Ariel 

Okay but really… why does a popcorn kernel “pop”? And why don’t other grains do the same? 

What is Popcorn Made of?

The makeup of popcorn contains moisture and oil and unlike other grains, the outer hull of the kernel is strong enough to block out moisture. When heat is applied to the kernel, the water in the kernel turns into steam. 

Once the steam is created, the starch inside the kernel is then transformed to a gelatinized form and it softens. The pressure of the steam increases until ultimately the hull ruptures, releasing the pressure inside the kernel and expanding the steam rapidly, subsequently expanding the starch and proteins rapidly. This creates the beautiful, crunchy texture of popped popcorn that we know and love. 

What Makes Popcorn Pop

Kernels are entirely sensitive to the temperatures they are exposed to. Heating too quickly will result in the hull being ruptured before the starch in the center of the kernel can gelatinize. This results in only a portion of the kernel popping, while the other part is still hard and often inedible (without chipping a tooth). 

Heating kernels too slowly won’t allow the pressure to build to result in “popping.” 


popcorn popped science what makes popcorn pop

The Perfect Pop Every Time

Our food scientists at Opopop worked tirelessly to create a popper that would provide the best popping experience. Designed for our Flavor Wrapped Kernels and Pop Cups, our popper is: 

  • Eco-friendly and collapsible silicone 
  • Reusable 
  • Dishwasher Safe
  • BPA Free 

Our Discovery Kits all include a popper with your flavors! 

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