Why Is It Called Cornhole?

Cornhole

Cornhole is a classic outdoor game enjoyed both at parties and competitively. It is most popular in the midwest, especially in Kentucky and Ohio, and rose to popularity in 1974 thanks to an issue of Popular Mechanics that explained how to make your own cornhole boards.


What Does Cornhole Mean?

Cornhole is defined as a lawn game where the objective is to throw a beanbag through a hole in the middle of a slanted platform. The name is the result of logistics surrounding the game and historical context surrounding the creation of the activity.

How Did Cornhole Get Its Name?

Cornhole’s name is incredibly straightforward and is a combination of the two components of the game. Like the game itself, its name does not have a clear origin story; however, the name itself is pretty self-explanatory.

“Corn”

The game derives the first half of its name from the fact the bags used in the game were originally filled with corn due to its low cost. Though there are many different filling options for the bags nowadays, many believe corn is what makes the game authentic. This is because the corn filling provides a puff of dust when it lands on the board and provides a layer of dust on the board that can help prevent an opponent's bag from sliding into the hole. However, using corn has several drawbacks, such as the fact that corn attracts animals and cannot get wet

“Hole”

The game gets the second half of its name from the hole in the center of the slanted platforms. The aim of the game is to get the corn-filled bags into the hole, which is six inches in diameter.

Who Created Cornhole?

The origin of cornhole is currently unknown, though there are several theories about where it was created, who created it, and why it was created. The four most popular theories do not vary greatly, and it seems anyone who threw anything at a target in the ground could possibly have created cornhole. We will likely never know for certain which is the true creator of cornhole; however, it is easy to agree that cornhole is a wildly popular lawn game in the United States, especially the midwest.

Matthias Kueperman: Germany

The story of Matthias Kueperman’s invention of cornhole takes place in the 1400’s. Allegedly, Kueperman, a cabinet maker, discovered some children throwing rocks into a groundhog hole in a field. Kueperman was concerned about the children’s safety as they threw rocks at each other and reached into the groundhog’s hole to retrieve their rocks. Kueperman made wooden boxes with holes in the top and filled small bags with corn, giving the children a safer alternative. When German immigrants moved to America, they brought Kueperman’s game with them, and eventually, it became modern-day cornhole.

The Native Americans: North America

Another cornhole origin story involves Native American tribes located in the midwest, particularly the Blackhawks. Though there is no concrete evidence, there are many stories of the Native Americans filling dried animal bladders with beans or corn and throwing them at holes in the ground. It is possible that they invented cornhole, and the game was eventually adopted by the colonists, who eventually moved onto their land. Considering the fact Native Americans are also credited with creating soccer and lacrosse, this theory is very plausible.

Jebediah McGilliguddy: Kentucky, United States of America

The story of Jebediah McGilliguddy’s invention of cornhole takes place on a 19th-century midwestern farm. He invented cornhole with materials from his farm as a fun way to enjoy time with his friends and family and pass the time. Like both other stories, the location of this origin story accounts for cornhole’s massive popularity in the midwest.

Heyliger de Windt: United States of America

This origin story is perhaps the most credible of all the theories because it has actual evidence to back it up. Though the game Heyliger de Windt invented was not named cornhole, it was the first instance on record of people throwing bags of corn into a hole in a wooden platform. De Windt applied for a patent for “Parlor Quoits” in 1883, as evidenced by records from the United States Patent Office. The biggest difference between de Windt’s invention and cornhole is the square hole featured in de Windt’s version.

Other Origin Stories

There are other theories surrounding the origin of cornhole. Some say the Greeks were the first to play a game similar to cornhole called Boccia. Another theory is that cornhole originated in Cincinnati, though that theory could be related to the game’s massive popularity in that region.