Here in Illinois, we grow more pumpkins than we do popcorn, but popcorn is our state's "official snack," so take that, you big orange gourds. 

Illinois designated popcorn as the official state snack food in 2003 (corn is also the official state vegetable--I'm seeing a pattern...) thanks to the efforts of 2nd and 3rd grade students with help from their teacher, Fran Hollister, at Cunningham Elementary School in Joliet. They proposed popcorn as the state snack food, and State Senator Larry Walsh sponsored the bill.

According to some researchers, we've been growing popcorn in Illinois for quite a while. How long? Evidence suggests that Native Americans began growing popcorn in what is now Illinois--in or around 100 A.D. Currently, there are 333 farms in Illinois that grow popcorn on 47,000 acres​.

Some other interesting tidbits about popcorn, from (of course) PopCorn.org:

  • Americans consume 13 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually or 42 quarts per man, woman and child
  • 70 percent is eaten in the home (home popped and pre-popped) and about 30 percent outside the home (theaters, stadiums, schools, etc.). Unpopped popcorn accounts for approximately 90 percent of sales for home consumption
  • Major popcorn producing states are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio
  • The peak period for popcorn sales for home consumption is the fall. Sales remain fairly high throughout the winter months then taper off during the spring and summer
  • Most of the popcorn consumed throughout the world is grown in the United States. Although world-wide sales of popcorn are steadily increasing, Americans consume more popcorn than the citizens of any other country
  • Good popcorn should provide at least 98 percent popped kernels with well under two percent "spinsters" or unpopped kernels