Old Maids

Posted by R. Berg on August 30, 2001

In Reply to: Old Maids? posted by Marsha on August 30, 2001

: Why are unpopped kernels of popcorn referred to as "old maids"?

Literally, an old maid is a woman who remains unmarried beyond the usual age, and the term has historically implied some traits besides mere singlehood, such as being fussy, reclusive, and eccentric. Unpopped kernels similarly refuse to join in the dance of life, to bloom into fulfillment as their aerated selves, to follow the path taken by the great majority, their livelier companions. This interpretation will offend those who balk at its pro-marriage bias. I can't help that. The phrase "old maid" has the same bias.