Kettle corn was introduced to the United States in the 18th century. It is referenced in the diaries of Dutch settlers in Pennsylvania circa 1776. It was a treat sold at fairs or consumed at other festive occasions. The corn, oil, sugar and salt together is cooked in a cast iron kettle, or possibly a Dutch oven. This produces a noticeable sweet crust on the popcorn; however, this method requires constant stirring or the sugar will burn. Alternatively, a batch of plain popped corn can be sweetened with sugar or honey before adding salt. This combination was widely popular in the early 19th century but fell from wide usage during the 20th century.
In the early 21st century, kettle corn made a comeback in America, especially at 19th-century living history events. It is cooked and sold at fairs and flea markets throughout the United States, especially art and craft shows. A cast iron cauldron is typically used to publicly cook the corn and mix the ingredients. Recipes for homemade kettle corn are available, and microwave popcorn versions are sold at grocery stores by Orville Redenbacher’s, Act II, and other brands.
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