6500 Year Old Popcorn and 3 Other Foods With Ancient Origins

It turns out that humans have been munching on popcorn for much longer than previously thought. Scientists have uncovered fossilized cobs indicating that people in northeastern Peru were popping kernels as early as 4,700 B.C. — about 1,000 years earlier than previous evidence suggested. That precedes Orville Redenbacher by more than 6,500 years) But popcorn is not the only contemporary food with origins in the ancient world. Here are five other favorite foods with ancient origins.

Ice cream

The Chinese are credited with eating the first “ice-cream-like food” around 200 B.C. But instead of today’s ubiquitous chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry, early versions were made using milk and rice packed into snow. The dish continued to evolve, and in the 7th century, King Tang of Shang kept helpers on hand to whip up a frosty concoction made of buffalo milk, flour, and camphor.


When and where was the classic Italian dinner born? There are several origin stories surround lasagna and a couple point to ancient Greece as the birthplace of the cheesy comfort food. One theory states that the word “lasagna” comes from the Greek term “lasanon,” or standing pot, which eventually became the type of serving dish used to bake the pasta. 


It’s quite likely that America’s quintessential fast food was an on-the-go meal from the start. Its creation can be credited to the fearsome Mongols, who, in the 1200s, stashed raw beef under their saddles as they waged their campaign to conquer the known world. After time spent between the asses of man and beast, the beef became tender enough to eat. The steak tartare this inspired eventually found its way to the Germany port city of Hamburg, where it was transformed into a minced, cooked beef patty. But the hamburger wasn’t really a burger until 1900, when a Connecticut restaurant claims to have slapped the Hamburg steak between two buns, and voilà — “America’s first hamburger.”