Corn is the ever-present food in our lives, making our breakfast delicious whenever we reach for a bowl of corn cereal or helping us to wind down whilst watching a movie with a bag of popcorn. But as familiar as we are with its irresistible taste, there are many facts about corn that are not as well known. In this article we’re exploring the reasons why corn is such a special food, its ancient origins and the many amazing things you wouldn’t believe are made using corn as an ingredient.
Top 7 facts about corn, one of the world’s most famous staple food
1. Corn comes from Mexico
The first ancient farmers to cultivate corn were the native people of the North American continent, in an area that would become present-day Mexico, about 10,000 years ago. It would soon become a crop popular across North America and, after Cristopher Columbus expeditions, corn became a staple food in Europe as well.
2. Corn is also called maize
Originally, the new crop discovered in the New World became known to European explorers as maize, based on the word ‘mahiz’ which indigenous people used to refer to the big green stalks they were cultivating. In Europe, the crop was referred to as the Indian corn, until eventually it became shortened to just corn. These days, both corn and maize are used in different parts of the globe.
3. Corn is a vegetable, fruit and grain
Corn is a starchy vegetable similar to potatoes, but its kernels are considered grains and can be milled into flour. This is why NESTLÉ GOFREE CORN FLAKES make such a great substitute for breadcrumbs, especially when you are on a gluten-free diet. Check out this delicious gluten-free pork schnitzel recipe to see what we mean.
But one of the less-known corn facts is that it’s also technically a fruit because it comes from the seed or flower of a plant, similar to tomatoes. And like many fruits, due to its sugar content, corn can be turned into syrup as well.
4. Corn comes in many different colours
Colour is one of the most fun facts about corn. Although we’re used to the golden yellow corn that gives our breakfast cornflakes the irresistible colour, the full range of shades corn comes in is enough to create a rainbow: red, blue, purple, black, brown, pink and so many others. One of the most amazing varieties is called Calico corn and it looks like a multi-coloured gem with red, yellow and brown kernels. Perfect for fun, colourful corn crafts you can make with the kids.
5. The world record for a corn plant height is over 48 feet
An average corn plant grows up to 8 feet tall. But a record-setting corn stalk managed to grow six times as high in 2021. Jason Karl grew the giant corn plant in New York, USA by using heat to extend the growing season. He broke his own previous record and succeeded in growing the world’s tallest corn plant which reached a height of 48 feet.
6. Corn is more than food
You might be expecting that all the facts about corn revolve around food. But while corn has given us plenty of delicious moments filled with favourites such as corn flakes, popcorn or tacos, this plant and its kernels are part of so many everyday products, from cosmetics to antibiotics and even fireworks!
7. Corn has an even number of rows on each cob
One of Mother Nature’s curiosities is that you can always count on corn to have an even number of rows on each ear. Most varieties have between 8-20 rows of kernels, but whatever the number, chances are it’s going to be even. Why not put this fun corn fact to the test and give your little one the mission to count all the rows and decide whether the final number is even or not?
Corn is a great gluten-free food if you’re avoiding gluten. Check out our gluten-free recipes and you’ll discover some of the most delightful meals and created using the tasty and crispy NESTLÉ GOFREE Cereals.
- IN PERSON
For the last 15 years we’ve been working to reduce the sodium (which is the major component of salt) in our breakfast cereals across the world, because we want to keep on making them more nutritious. Achieving consistency on all products, in all countries, takes time - so some may have more sodium than others. Our aim is for all our cereals – globally – to have the same reduced levels of sodium, with a target of less than 135mg per serving in all our children’s products.
As well as being a healthy choice for people who want to reduce the amount of gluten in their diet, or have coeliac disease or a gluten intolerance, Gluten Free Corn Flakes are fortified with B-vitamins, folic acid and iron
Two things to remember: • Look for food labels where the word 'whole' appears in front of the name of the grain, like “whole wheat” or “wholemeal bread”. • For foods with more than one ingredient, make sure whole grain is listed towards the top of the ingredients list. The further up the list it is, the more whole grain has been used in the recipe. And look out for the percentage of whole grain. You should find this in the ingredients list too.
Because it’s industry practice to label seasonal oils (oils that aren’t consistently available across the year). In Europe it’s now mandatory to detail the types of vegetable oils used in a food product. So it’s no longer permitted to use the term “vegetable oil” on a label.