Ancient Snacks: Peruvians Ate Popcorn 6,500 Years Ago

                                    Image Credit: Monica Rodriguez/Digital Vision/Getty Images

They didn't have movie theaters with stadium seating and surround-sound speakers but ancient Peruvians did eat popcorn, and began snacking long before originally thought, new research shows.

The oldest evidence from macro-fossils of corn, which are about 9,000 years old, was discovered in Southwest Mexico. Evidence shows that it moved south to Panama and then to Peru.

Researchers re-excavated Huaca Prieta, a famous site in Peru, and found micro- and macro-fossils of corn. "They're the earliest macro- fossils of corn in South America," researcher Dolores Piperno of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute said.

"Researchers previously thought corn was eaten in Peru by about 4,500 years ago. Now there's evidence from our study it was eaten there 6,500 years ago," Piperno said.

The finding proves popcorn is the oldest kind of corn eaten in South America. "I'm really not surprised," Piperno said. "It's the most primitive type of corn."

And while it's obvious the ancient Peruvians didn't pop their popcorn in the microwave, they didn't even have pots 6,500 years ago. "They probably roasted it in different ways," Piperno said. "They didn't have pots yet so they must have had other ways to cook food, like the earth and ovens."

Fun fact: Today happens to be National Popcorn Day.

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