Fun Facts About Corn That Will Amaze You
Have you ever wondered about the history of the tasty golden vegetable that ends up on our plates as popcorn, corn on the cob, or ingredient in so many dishes? Corn is actually a super fascinating crop with a rich backstory. This article uncovers 15 kernel-sized bits of corn trivia that will captivate you!
Corn – also known by its scientific name Zea mays – has an epic, 9,000-year story that has intertwined with human civilization in the Americas from the start. This versatile grain has sustained communities for ages, transformed cuisines, spawned cultural traditions, and found usefulness across industries. Its bright yellow kernels continue nourishing billions while bringing joy in the form of sweet corn-on-the-cob or buttery popcorn.
Corn is a true staple food in most parts of the world. Think you know everything about this prominent crop? Read on to get your corn knowledge popping!
Fun Facts About Corn
- Corn is believed to have been first domesticated in southern Mexico back around 7,000 BC. Ancient people cultured quick-growing teosinte grass to breed modern maize.
- The optimal growing temperature for corn is 20-30°C. Too hot and the pollen starts dying! No wonder corn thrives across temperate North America.
- The United States is the top producer of corn in the world, growing over 360 million metric tons per year. That’s a lot of corn!
- Iowa has the nickname “Corn State” for good reason – it contributes over 18% of the country’s annual production. Nebraska and Illinois trail close behind.
- There are over 3,500 different uses for corn products, including food, fuel, animal feed, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, batteries, charcoal…the list is endless!
- Ever wondered why corn comes in so many colors? Yellow is most common, but corn also grows in shades of red, purple, black, white, and blue. Pigments called anthocyanins are responsible for the rainbow.
- Corn consumed by the average American yearly would fill a 12-oz can standing 6,925 feet tall. That’s over 1 mile high…of corn!
- Corn ethanol is a renewable biofuel made from fermented corn starch. It is commonly blended with gasoline as a cleaner-burning alternative.
- The world record for corn shucking speed belongs to Greg Baltz of Michigan, who hand-shucked an ear every 1.5 seconds totaling 1,790 ears in 1 hour in 1992.
- Corn mazes are a popular autumn activity around Halloween for a good reason – corn vines from 12-foot stalks make perfectly puzzling walls. Some mazes span over 60 acres!
- Ever tried huitlacoche? This rare Mexican delicacy is actually made from corn smut, a fungus that grows on corn to form swollen blue-grey galls. It tastes mushroom-y!
- Jolly Green Giant, the friendly mascot representing canned and frozen veggies, wears a green leafy outfit but his hands remain corn-gold. Coincidence?
- Tiny biodegradable corn starch packing peanuts dissolve in water, unlike nasty Styrofoam. 300 million pounds of this eco-friendlystuffing gets produced annually!
- What food comes in more shapes and sizes than any other? Corn snacks like puffs, chips, tortillas, and even pet food hold the prize for versatility.
- Popcorn is a type of corn containing extra moisture that turns to steam when heated, expanding the kernel into a fluffy treat we snack on during movies. Pure genius!
From ancient Mesoamericans first domesticating tiny teosinte grass to the endless acres of corn dominating America’s heartland today, corn has a rich history interwoven with human progress. This humble grain sustained civilizations across North and South America for millennia and continues nourishing billions as a staple food and ingredient in countless dishes.
Beyond cuisine, innovative corn products continue finding new purposes – ethanol fuels cleaner cars, cornstarch packs eco-friendly shipping peanuts, maze walls confound us come Halloween. All those buttery kernels we love to bite into hold an epic 9,000-year story of sustenance and versatility like no other crop on Earth!