It’s Popcorn Time!

Monday, April 18th, 2022

If you haven’t heard…

We FINALLY completed the new building AND moved in! Our popcorn manufacturing plant is already up and running. We will continue to make our pistachio caramel popcorn, but we will also experiment with other flavors, such as green chile pistachio, chocolate cherry, white cheddar, and, of course, butter-flavored regular popcorn.

In honor of our new addition, today’s blog is all about popcorn, including what it is, why it pops, and how it is different from the corn we eat on the cob.




What is popcorn?

If you frequent movie theaters or just find yourself to be a lover of snacks, then you probably are a lover of popcorn. Popcorn is a versatile snack that can be salty, sweet, buttery, cheesy or even covered in chocolate or caramel. It’s an excellent gift for the holidays, perfect for grazing at parties, and a favorite snack for moviegoers, but do you ever wonder what it actually is? Is popcorn the same corn that you eat on the cob in the summer? Does it grow in giant fields like other corn? Where does popcorn come from?

Popcorn is a particular variety of corn called Zea mays var. everta. This type of corn kernel has a very tough hull that is impervious to water. The seed also expands and fluffs up when it gets hot.


Why does popcorn pop?

To understand why popcorn pops, we have to look at the anatomy of the kernel (or seed) of popcorn. The outer part of the kernel is called the “hull,” and the inside is a tissue called the “endosperm.” The hull is hard and should be impervious to moisture (as long as it is intact). The endosperm is starchy and contains about 14-20% moisture. When the kernel is heated, that small amount of water in the endosperm turns into steam. The steam causes the starchy insides to soften and gelatinize. Then, just like a tea kettle, once the pressure of that steam builds up, it has to be released. Since there is nowhere for it to escape, it eventually creates so much pressure that the hull brakes (POP!) and allows the newly soft insides to escape and puff up. Then once it hits the air, the temperature drops, and it takes a solid, more airy form, which is the delicious, popped corn we enjoy!


What makes popcorn different than other corn that we eat?

Popcorn is one of six main types of corn:

  • Sweet corn: This is the kind we are used to eating on the cob or from a can.
  • Flour corn: This corn has a softer hull and starch, perfect for making cornmeal.
  • Field corn: Also known as “dent corn,” it has a tougher outside but soft, starchy inside. There are many commercial uses for this corn, from animal feed and ethanol. It’s also used for making tortillas, tortilla chips, and even high fructose corn syrup
  • Popcorn: POP! We all know what this kind of corn is good for!
  • Flint Corn: This is also known as “calico corn.” Like popcorn, it has a tough hull and soft endosperm. Flint corn is colorful and commonly seen as the ornamental corn we use in fall décor. It is also the preferred corn to make hominy.
  • Pod Corn: Pod corn is unique because each kernel is also covered by a husk. It was once thought to be an ancestor of maize but then was discovered to be a genetic mutation. It is not typically commercially produced.


While all corn generally grows the same way, on the cob, surrounded by leaves, in large fields-there are many different varieties of corn that have various uses and even harvest methods. Sweet corn, for example, has a higher sugar content and is harvested early to ensure the kernels have a high moisture content. This gives the corn that juicy texture that we love to enjoy grilled or boiled during the summer. Other types of corn (including popcorn) are left to dry and harden on the cob for as long as possible. Due to varying starch and sugar contents, hull thickness, and even kernel shape—popcorn is the only variety of corn that POPS and puffs. So, it is uniquely the fluffy, crunchy snack we know and love.


We hope you had as much fun learning about popcorn as we did! Please make sure to check our stores and website for updates about new flavors. If you want to see our new popcorn factory for yourself and happen to be in Southern New Mexico on April 21, come to our GRAND OPENING!





Heart of the Desert is a working pistachio ranch and vineyard with four retail establishments in New Mexico. They are best known for their farm fresh pistachios and Award-Winning New Mexico wines. Each store offers wine and pistachio tastings. They offer worldwide shipping and produce attractive gourmet baskets that make great corporate and family gifts. The main store, on the ranch in Alamogordo, offers farm tours that showcases how pistachios are grown and processed as well as a stunning Tuscany themed patio that overlooks the groves and is available for weddings, private parties or enjoying a relaxing glass of wine.