The same year it was released and recorded at Audio Fidelity Records label in New York City. The title may refer to the short staccato or sharp "popping" sound used. A studio technician may have suggested the name "popcorn" because it was pop music and 'corny', meaning kitsch. However it has also been suggested that the composition received its title during a meeting between Kingsley and Audio Fidelity; Kingsley indicated the track did not have a title and someone suggested "Popcorn", with 'Pop' standing for pop music and 'corn' for kitsch. Some single sleeves (such as the one illustrated) presents the title as two words, "Pop Corn", but the title is generally presented as one word.
In 1972, Hot Butter's rerecording was a huge hit in many countries. "Popcorn" has since been covered by a great number of artists.
Hot Butter's version became the second primarily electronic-based piece of music to reach the American popular music charts, three years after "The Minotaur" by Dick Hyman & His Electric Eclectics. The Hot Butter recording peaked at no. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and no. 4 on the Easy Listening chart. The single had great success in Australia where it reached no. 1 for 8 weeks. It was also no. 1 in Switzerland, where it topped the chart for 10 weeks and stayed for 17 weeks in the top 10. In Norway, it was no. 1 for 6 weeks and featured for 21 weeks in the top 10. It was also no. 1 in Germany and reached no. 5 on 22 July 1972 in UK and no. 15 in Canada - October 1972. In France, this version of "Popcorn" is the 131st best-selling single of all time, with about 900,000 sales.
In 2005, "Popcorn" was covered by Crazy Frog, and this remixed version was released on 22 August 2005. Jamba! once again arranged the remix, and also marketed it as a ringtone. The song differs from the debut release "Axel F", as it does not contain the trademark "Crazy Frog sound" by Daniel Malmedahl. However, the music video is once again animated computer-generated imagery, produced by Kaktus Film and Erik Wernquist of TurboForce3D.
The single was a hit in various countries, but not as much as Crazy Frog's previous song, "Axel F". It peaked at no. 1 in Belgium, France and New Zealand. In France, the single had its greatest success: it went straight to no. 1 on 24 September 2005, whereby Crazy Frog replaced its own song "Axel F", and stayed at this position for seven weeks. Its best weekly sales were 71,777 in its second week. The single remained for 11 weeks in the top 10, 21 weeks in the top 50 and 27 weeks in the chart. Certified Diamond three months after its release by the SNEP, and as of August 2014, it is the 40th best-selling single of the 21st century in France, with 458,000 units sold.
In 1988, M&H Band made an uptempo cover of "Popcorn" that has subsequently been misattributed to Kraftwerk. The M&H version is also sometimes misattributed to synthpop artist Jean Michel Jarre. There is also a version circulating on the internet that is claimed to have been made by avant-garde group The Residents even though it sounds vastly different from The Residents' usual experimental sound. This version is actually made by the hard house artists called The Rezidents, hence the confusion between the two.British electronic artist Richard D. James recorded a cover on his EP Joyrex J4 EP under the alias Caustic Window in 1992.
The "Popcorn" melody, played by an ensemble under Meshcherin since 1970, played every Sunday on the first channel of the Soviet television (in "Sportloto" lotto broadcasting). In 1976, the tenth episode of the Soviet animated series Nu, pogodi! included this song as Volk (The Wolf) is chasing Zayats (The Hare) at a construction site. A variation of "Popcorn" was used by WDIV in Detroit, Michigan as background music for the station's Michigan Lottery Lotto drawings during the 1980s.