There is also the risk of burning your mouth if you were to eat an unpopped kernel of popcorn. The steam and pressure that build up inside a popcorn kernel are what eventually prompt it to pop as it cooks. Even for kernels that fail to pop, they still retain that heat after you pull your bag of popcorn out of the microwave. Without allowing enough time for popcorn to cool down, accidentally lobbing a kernel into your mouth after cooking could be a recipe for a painful burn.
But what might happen if an unpopped popcorn kernel were to make it beyond the mouth and travel down the esophagus? This can pose some unique risks for children, pediatrician Dr. Lyndsey Garbi told Romper. “Popcorn is one of the highest-risk choking hazard foods for little children. Toddlers do not have the ability to chew it well and handle the kernels, which can get lodged in their airways.” For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises caregivers that popcorn should not be given to young children under the age of four.