State Symbol: Illinois State Snack Food— Popcorn (Zea mays everta)

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. It is estimated that Native Americans in Illinois started growing corn about 100 A.D.

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.

The Symbol

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. The Official Illinois Snackfood was voted a State Symbol in 2003.