It’s So Hot, Maryland’s Cornstalks Apparently Pop With Butter Already On Them

SPOILER ALERT: No, it’s not actually hot enough to pop popcorn on the stalk, but don’t tell that to the internet.

On Saturday, in anticipation of record-high temperatures, the Montgomery County, Maryland Fire and Rescue Service tweeted a picture of a stalk of corn with (presumably) kernels popping.

Whether the picture used was just tongue and cheek, or meant as a prank, almost immediately, a local news station ran the story as though it was real news.

Unfortunately, the internet being the internet and stupid people being…well…stupid, a number of people actually believed that the temperatures are hot enough to pop popcorn on a cornstalk—despite the fact that the popcorn shown is buttered popcorn.

Fortunately, back in 2015, French engineers Emmanuel Virot and Alexandre Ponomarenko used thermodynamic analysis and high-speed imaging techniques to understand the ideal temperature for maximum kernel poppage…and it is far higher than the temperatures in Montgomery County, Maryland, or even Death Valley, for that matter.

The pair applied their knowledge of engineering and thermodynamics to the task, calculating average hull strength, standard water boiling conditions and critical kernel pressure, and found that 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit) is the ideal temperature at which popcorn should be cooked. This finding is consistent with the results of several test batches the researchers prepared: When cooked in an oven set to 170 degrees Celsius (338 degrees Fahrenheit), 66 percent of kernels were left un-popped. At 180 degrees [Celsius, or 356 degrees Farenheit], the un-popped portion dwindled to only 4 percent.

Following the original tweet going viral, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service sent out another tweet explaining that their original tweet was “humor” and apologizing “to anyone we may have mislead, confused or made hungry.”

Even the local news station issued a quasi-correction:

Thankfully, not everyone fell for the prank.

Yes, it is hot out…but it is not hot enough to pop popcorn on the stalk.

If it were, we’d be mostly dead.

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