Popcorn & Puritans

11/17/2014 - 4:33:54 PM

The ‘P’ Family

Pilgrims, known as Puritans, or Protestants were one in the same, and they all had something in common in the early 1600s, they wanted freedom. The church of England was oppressive and strict, and there was no room for anyone of a different faith or belief and the Puritans wanted out. An idealistic people, they were also very adventurous, and they started working to come to the America’s to discover a whole “New World.”

The Problem

They couldn’t seem to get financial backing, and for 12 years looked for alternative ways to fund the trip, until they persuaded some English merchants to take a chance with them, and a ship full of men, women and children set sail on a voyage of 66 windy and miserable days crossing the Atlantic. They even landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts, instead of where New York City is now, because the trip had to be shortened due to the bad weather.


If they could survive that first winter there was a better chance they could make good lives for themselves. It looked daunting to them to gather resources from nowhere, because though there was enough if you knew how to take it, they had lived in the old country and depended so much on everyone else, that figuring out life on their own was a big problem with death on the other side if it didn’t get done right, as had been so sadly demonstrated by the group at Jamestown. There was nothing to fall back on, no one to supply food for them if they happened not to gather enough, and no one really had a good idea of how bad the winter would be here on this new continent.


Most people associate popcorn with the Indians the settlers had allied themselves with, known as the Abenaki, or Squanto. The Indians helped them to grow corn and fertilize their fields, and joined in treaty to protect each other from roaming and nearby tribes, and as that first Harvest feast together approached helped each other to gather supplies for what we think would be a pretty bare Thanksgiving meal.

  • Deer

  • Corn

  • Shellfish

  • Roasted Meat

It’s all in the P’s

What, no popcorn? Everyone knows that was an important part of the first Thanksgiving meal, well, maybe it was, but for purposes of interest we traced popcorn back to when it was first found in what is called the “bat cave” in New Mexico, with kernels that were carbon-dated to about 5,500 years ago. Out of curiosity, the anthropologists put a few in hot oil just to see what would happen, and amazingly, they still popped. (Guess that means the shelf life on popcorn isn’t quite as short as they say)

Back to 1621, legend has it, the Indians did bring a few bags of popped corn to the settlers introducing them to this New World culinary delight that was probably tough and possibly unsalted. Anyway, this three day feast was done up proper by playing ball games, singing and dancing. With the exception of ball games, very few of us have carried on the tradition of singing and dancing on that day, though we’re all pretty good of sacking out on the couch to watch football after our gigantic dinners.

The Point

Why highlight all these “p’s?” Mostly to remember that it is possible to celebrate and be content with little. Thanksgiving is not defined by what we have, but the attitude that what we have is enough. The Pilgrims or Puritans, may have had it tough, but they also had what they treasured above all else, freedom. For that they were willing to sacrifice comfort, family, settled life, grocery stores and butchers next door, for a wild and unknown place that might possibly kill them. They obtained freedom, and they gave thanks with little.

It should remind us that materialism isn’t what makes us happy and grateful, but the willingness to put a higher value on what really matters to us.

Caramel Popcorn

If you have just a little bit of room left on Thanksgiving day, try out our delicious recipe for caramel corn with the unexpected burst of cranberry texture.

  • ½ c.  Butter

  • 2 c.   Brown sugar

  • ½ c.  Corn syrup

  • 1 t.    Salt

  • ½ t.   Baking soda

  • 1 t.    Vanilla extract

  • 5qt.  Popped popcorn


Preheat oven to 250°F and put popcorn in large bowl. In a medium saucepan over medium heat melt butter, stir in everything but the soda and vanilla, and boil without stirring 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in soda and vanilla, then pour over popcorn while stirring to coat it.

Put in two large, shallow baking dishes and bake, stirring every 15 minutes for 1 hour. Cool the popcorn, break into pieces, and count your blessings while eating.

Life Tip: “True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”

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