Still Waters: Hug a bowl of popcorn

National Popcorn Day is today (January 19), and the 32nd Annual National Hugging Day is Sunday, January 21.

I’m in.

On both counts.

Both are pretty great. Growing up, popcorn was always associated with Saturday night, that and Lawrence Welk. Cheese and popcorn were the staples of Saturday night at our house and still are when we get together. Now we may add a few more treats, but there’s still usually popcorn and slices of cheese.

Popcorn had to be slathered in real butter, as well. Daddy is the popcorn-making expert, and he pops it the old fashioned way, then melts some butter and pours over it. Eat your heart out Orville Redenbacher! (OK, his popcorn’s not bad either, so he can rest in peace.)

Americans consume 13 billion quarts of popcorn every year, or 42 quarts per person. (We try to do our part.) The number one use for microwaves is popping popcorn.

Air-popped popcorn is only 30 calories per cup without anything on it. But what’s the point in that?

It was fun to see some of the innovative recipes the popcorn folks had come up with to celebrate National Popcorn Day — cheesy popcorn bread, cranberry almond popcorn muffins (which we ran the recipes for in Thursday’s paper) and some we didn’t have room for like: mushroom crusted tilapia using popcorn (crushed in a blender with mushrooms and seasonings) as the crust; popcorn crusted macaroni and cheese (placed on top when baked); popcorn meatloaf (ground up with the beef or turkey); popcorn pepperoni pizza dippers (whisked in with cheese and pepperoni before baking); and of course lots of sweet treats, many of which are variations on the popcorn ball.

The last tidbit about popcorn: The world’s largest popcorn ball, according to Guinness World Records 2015, was created in 2013 at the Indiana State Fair. With the help of Pop Weaver, Snax in Pax, and Indiana's Family of Farmers, the popcorn ball weighed in at 6,510-pounds, 8 feet in diameter.

Now that would last for a few Saturday nights!

And of course the national hugging day is a good day to give your squeeze a squeeze. The organizers of this annual day of hugging, the Hug Alliance (who would have thought there was such a thing?) are going to try to set some Guinness World Records that day:

  • Most nationalities in one group hug
  • First hugs from space (A NASA astronaut at the International Space Station will appear on the jumbo screen to give virtual hugs from space to honored attendees wearing kinetic sensor vests)
  • Most 21-second hugs

I’ll be available, just so you know, for a 21-second hug, although I won’t make it to the Agape International Center in Culver City, California for the “most nationalities in one group hug” record breaker, the Hug Mob and the Celebrity Hugging Booth.

The National Hugging Day began with 7-year-old Shana Morrison and her father, Rick Morrison, co-authors of the children’s book, The Hug Store, and co-founders of the Hug Alliance. They will be part of a Hug Mob on Sunday. The want to “transform the field of human connection within families and communities in the ultimate pursuit of world peace.”

Bless their hearts!

Maybe we won’t accomplish world peace, but a hug is a good place to start!