In addition to the traditional introduction, body of research, and references, don't forget to include a fact that you like your fellow students to know. Please present the fact in a format of Canvas quiz (multiple choice, multiple answers, fill in the blank, matching, etc), including the question, correct answers, distractors, as well as a quick explanation why your fellow students should know about this.
Your team reflection, one submission per team, should be submitted on Canvas.
Popcorn is a great snacking food that comes in a variety of flavours and even cooking methods. Popcorn or maize was first cultivated for food by indigenous people in 5000 B.C.E. According to Tori Avey, the author of “Popcorn: A “Pop” History”, popcorn arrived in the southwest part of America almost 2500 years ago. Corn then started to be farmed in the 1800’s and evidence of popcorn was then found near 1820’s. Popcorn was first called and sold as Pearl or Nonpareil and became popular near 1840’s.
Angie’s first started in Mankato, Minnesota by Angie, her husband Dan and their two kids. Dan and Angie continued with their full-time jobs and decided to start a small popcorn business on the side. They started in their garage and took time to teach their kids about hard work, values and have some fun. Slowly their business grew, and Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop popcorn is now sold in North America, South Korea, Peru, and Caribbean. One of the fastest growing popcorn brands with a female role model and mentor for other female entrepreneurs. In 2017 the company had 280 employees and two production facilities. The popcorn is sold in all major grocery stores with many different flavors. Each flavour has different nutritional values and diet needs such as whole grain, vegan, kosher and much more. This research will explore the Boom Chicka Pop Sea Salt flavour and go in depth about preservation, flavor and much more.
How Popcorn is Popped
Popcorn comes from grown corn seed kernels and is one of 6 different types of kernels, being the only one with the ability to pop. The corn is bred to maximize small size and hard structure to maximize it’s popcorn potential. At initial harvesting the kernels have a 16-20% moisture content. The seed itself has an outer coating called a Pericarp which is made up of 91% fibre which helps it manage the kernels moisture content and protect the kernel. In the dry kernel the pericarp also helps to act as a seal and barrier for the seed. The harvested kernels with a 16-20% moisture content undergo an initial drying by pumping warm air through large bins of kernels to drop the moisture content to about 14%.  This makes the outer shell even stronger and better sealed. The Pericarp plays a major role in the mechanism of popping the corn. After the kernels have been dried and sorted to remove any impure or ill fitted kernels, they are added to a pot with oil and the temperature is raised to 446 degrees fahrenheit. Because of the rigid strength of the pericarp, the initial heating of the kernel is held within the kernel until the pressure builds significantly to where the inner moisture of the kernel becomes vapour. This pressure spike causes the kernel to explode and “pop” as it turns itself inside out. The gelatinous starch that is within the kernel immediately solidifies as it leaves the shell, ending with the perfect piece of popcorn.
Comparison of Sea Salt Popcorn vs. Salted Caramel Popcorn
Popcorn comes in a variety of flavors. According to a survey commissioned by the Popcorn Board, salt is the top seasoning used in popcorn. Alternatively, for those who prefer a sweet flavor profile, caramel corn ranks the highest compared to other sweet flavors in another survey. Hence, it is no surprise that Boom Chicka Pop offers their ready-to-eat products in these flavors.
The two types of popcorn share the three main ingredients: popcorn, sunflower oil, and sea salt. However, they differ in terms of proportion. Since ingredients are listed in decreasing amounts, it can be noticed that the salted caramel one contains sea salt at a lower concentration. By adding salt at a low concentration, sea salt acts as a flavor enhancer. It reduces the bitterness from the caramel and boosts the sweetness of the product.
|Invert Cane Syrup||
|Caramel and Annatto (Colors)||
In creating these two products, the first step is to pop the popcorn kernels. Additional steps are then added to achieve the desired flavor, color, and aroma.
Sea Salt Popcorn
The sea salt popcorn is the simplest to make because after the popcorn is popped, the only ingredient left to add is the sea salt. The sea salt is mixed into the popcorn to ensure that it is flavored evenly.
To make the caramel, sugar is heated at a high temperature. This process is known as caramelization. The heating of the sugar produces a sweet nutty flavor and a brown pigment, which contributes to the caramel color.
Aside from sugar, invert syrup is also added to prevent the caramel from crystallizing and gaining a grainy texture. Caramel crystallization occurs when only one type of sugar is present in the mixture. Due to the high concentration of sucrose, the caramel starts to recrystallize again. By adding invert syrup, it disrupts the crystallization of sucrose since invert syrup is composed of glucose and fructose. This new sugar mixture means that the concentration of sucrose is lower. Thus, crystallization is less likely to happen. The addition of invert syrup also increases the sweetness of the caramel.
Once the caramel mixture has come to a boil, the sea salt and the pre-popped popcorn are added. When it comes to coating the popcorn with caramel, the shape of the popcorn is important. Popcorn can pop in two shapes, butterfly and mushroom. The butterfly has an irregular shape and a tender texture. Meanwhile, the mushroom is spherical and has a rough texture. Coated popcorns usually are of this shape since it is sturdier than the butterfly.
After mixing the caramel and the popcorn thoroughly, the caramel popcorn is placed on a cooling table and stirred continuously as the popcorn dries to ensure that they do not clump together.
Boom Chicka Pop Ready-to-Eat popcorn is always packaged in a coloured sealed bag to protect against the environmental atmosphere, moisture, and any unwanted gas. In addition, Boom Chicka Pop is sold on shelves at room temperature, which is the ideal temperature to keep popcorn fresh.
According to Lesson 7, modified atmosphere packaging is used to package pre-popped popcorn. This type of packaging creates an atmosphere for the food that is different from the atmosphere outside of the bag. When food is placed inside the packaging, a vacuum sucks all the air out and then back-flushes a gas mixture into the bag before sealing it. Although there is no definitive information on what gas mixture Boom Chicka Pop uses, it is usually carbon dioxide and nitrogen. The lack of oxygen helps the product stay fresh and maintain its quality before its expiration date.
The gas mixture inside the packaging helps keep the popcorn fresh, and it also prevents physical damage to the food product. Even though the packaging is a bag, and can therefore change its shape from handling, the gas mixture acts as a protection layer to prevent direct force that can crush the popcorn.
Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop comes stored in a sealed bag to isolate the product from the external environment. Because popcorn is so dependent on moisture, it is quick to become stale should the package be left opened or following prolonged exposure to heat or open air. According to Lesson 5 and learned principles of food preservation, Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop is considered a semi-perishable food due to its 2-6 month shelf life. Angie’s Preservation and processing also manages to maximize shelf life as well as texture so the flavour comes through yet the popcorn does not get soggy or stale. The packaging is sealed to isolate the popcorn from outside light and moisture in the external environment. This is because of the multiple layers of polymers on the inner lining of the bag to block out moisture and maintain the dark environment. It also ensures the temperature is stable. The processing of the popcorn itself also maximizes the texture maintenance. This is done by using sunflower oil on the popcorn. Sunflower oil and oils in general are more beneficial as opposed to something like butter because they have a lower water content. Sunflower oil is also a perfect contender because it has high monounsaturated fat and low polyunsaturated fat contents. This helps the popcorn avoid oxidation and extend the shelf-life and also helps the starchy mass of the popped kernel to remain dry and fluffy without becoming soggy and too water-dense.The use of fat-solute rich sunflower oil as well as sea salt combine with the popcorn before it is sealed to maximize freshness, texture and taste.
Aroma and Flavour
Popcorn, whether freshly popped or pre-packaged, carries a distinctive aroma and flavour that is attractive to regular consumers. Several compounds have been identified as contributing to the buttery and nutty aroma of popcorn; pryazines in particular, such as 2-acetyl pyrazine, are noted to be important components of the popcorn aroma. Some other compounds involved include furans, carbonyls, and pyrroles. Many of these compounds are emitted while the popcorn is freshly popped, so it is crucial that the packaging of Boom Chicka Pop is sealed properly to maintain the distinctive smell of popcorn in order to attract consumers. Packaging elements that protect against the external environment are essential in recreating a freshly popped popcorn experience.
Boom Chicka Pop's Salted Caramel flavour also relies on the addition of caramel to enhance the aroma of traditional popcorn. The deep brown colour and toasty aroma of caramel comes from the Maillard reaction, which is a reaction of the sugars within foods when heated. The ingredients of caramel (sugar, butter, and water) are first brought to high temperatures, which triggers the Maillard reaction. During this cooking process, the ingredient mixture thickens, brown pigments are produced, and a toasty and nutty aroma is formed. This thickened solution, known as caramel, easily coats the popcorn and provides a sweet and salty aroma and flavour.
The light flavour of popcorn has also been noted as an ideal vehicle for many flavours, making popcorn a versatile snack. Because of its mild corn flavour, popcorn pairs well with a variety of additions, such as sea salt in the case of Boom Chicka Pop. As in the case of the Salted Caramel flavour of Boom Chicka Pop, it also works well with a toasty caramel flavour, allowing for a more decadent experience.
Potential Exam Question
Question: You find a bag of Boom Chicka Pop in your pantry from a few weeks ago that has not yet expired. You open it and realize that it still tastes like it is freshly popped. Why is that?
Answer: Boom Chicka Pop is packaged so that the gas inside the packaging cannot go out and gas from the outside atmosphere cannot go in. This helps maintain a longer shelf life than homemade popcorn, which would usually be served in a bowl. The packaging also helps with preventing direct sun exposure which can alter the quality of the popcorn.
Why it should be on the exam: This question should be on the exam because it tests students’ knowledge on preservation concepts in ready-to-eat food as well as how packaging affects food quality. Preservation methods and packaging go hand in hand to make Boom Chicka Pop taste the way it does and maintain its quality. Ready-to-eat popcorn is something that is very common among students and the general population. A question that refers to a well known food item would truly test the student's ability to apply their knowledge to something outside of class and to a very specific food item.
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