this page is dedicated to National Maize Day.
When is National Maize Day?
November 28 is National Maize Day each and every year!
Are there other corn related holidays? Yes!
August 23 - Buttered Corn Day
National Popcorn Day
National Popcorn Month - October
National Popcorn Poppin Month
National Corn Chip Day
National Corn Fritter Day
What is this Holiday for?
This Holiday is set aside for people to appreciate Maize and learn just what part it played in our food history. Did you know that many crops first domesticated by indigenous Americans (Native American Indians) are now produced and/or used globally. Largest among these is maize or "corn", arguably the most important crop in the world! So on National Maize Day remember how sweet and delicious corn is and have some fun learning about it's history. Have even more fun by learning the many ways to eat corn. Everything from cornbread to corn casserole can be cooked up into some mouth watering corn dishes. Share in the good taste with all your friends, family and neighbors too.
see types of cornbread
What is Maize??
Maize, known as corn in some countries, is a cereal grain domesticated in Mesoamerica and subsequently spread throughout the American continents. After European contact with the Americas in the late 15th century and early 16th century, maize spread to the rest of the world.
Maize is the largest crop in the Americas (270 million metric tons annually in the U.S. alone). Hybrid maize, due to its high grain yield due to heterosis ("hybrid vigour"), is preferred by farmers over conventional varieties. While some maize varieties grow 7 metres (23 ft) tall at certain locations, commercial maize has been bred for a height of 2.5 metres (8 ft). Sweet corn is usually shorter than field-corn varieties.
Tell me about the name
The term maize derives from the Spanish form (maíz) of the indigenous Taino term for the plant, and is the form most commonly heard in the United Kingdom. In the United States, Canada and Australia, the usual term is corn, which originally referred to any grain (and still does in Britain), but which now refers exclusively to maize, having been shortened from the form "Indian corn" (which currently, at least in the US, is often used to refer specifically to multi-colored "field corn" cultivars.
In the United States and Canada, the primary use for maize is as a feed for livestock, forage, silage or grain. Many forms of maize are used for food, sometimes classified as various subspecies:
- Flour corn — Zea mays var. amylacea
- Popcorn — Zea mays var. everta
- Dent corn — Zea mays var. indentata
- Flint corn — Zea mays var. indurata
- Sweet corn — Zea mays var. saccharata and Zea mays var. rugosa
- Waxy corn — Zea mays var. ceratina
- Pod corn — Zea mays var. tunicata Larrañaga ex A. St. Hil.
- Striped maize - Zea mays var. japonica
Human consumption of corn and cornmeal constitutes a staple food in many regions of the world. Corn meal is made into a thick porridge in many cultures: from the polenta of Italy, the angu of Brazil, the mămăligă of Romania, to mush in the U.S. or the food called sadza, nshima, ugali and mealie pap in Africa. It is the main ingredient for tortillas, atole and many other dishes of Mexican food, and for chicha, a fermented beverage of Central and South America. The eating of corn on the cob varies culturally. It is common in the United States but virtually unheard of in some European countries.
Sweetcorn is a genetic variation that is high in sugars and low in starch that is served like a vegetable. Popcorn is kernels of certain varieties that explode when heated, forming fluffy pieces that are eaten as a snack.
Maize can also be prepared as hominy, in which the kernels are bleached with lye; or grits, which are coarsely ground corn. These are commonly eaten in the Southeastern United States, foods handed down from Native Americans. Another common food made from maize is corn flakes. The floury meal of maize (cornmeal or masa) is used to make cornbread and Mexican tortillas. Teosinte is used as fodder, and can also be popped as popcorn.
The grain used in most of Native American cooking was maize, while wild rice (not a true grain) was found in certain southern regions. The seeds from various plants were also commonly utilized: pine nuts (western white pine, western yellow pine, pinyon pine), anglepod, dropseed, pigweed, spurge, sunflower seeds, tumbleweed, unicorn plant.
The Native Americans are credited as the first in America to create fire-proof pottery to place in direct flame. In what is now the Southwestern United States, Native Americans also created ovens made of adobe called hornos in which to bake items such as breads made from cornmeal.
The Three Sisters
Some forms of the plant are occasionally grown for ornamental use in the garden. For this purpose, variegated and coloured leaf forms as well as those with colourful ears are used. Additionally, size-superlative varieties, having reached 31 ft (9.4m) tall, or with ears 24 inches (60cm) long, have been popular for at least a century.
Corncobs can be hollowed out and treated to make inexpensive smoking pipes, first manufactured in the United States in 1869. Corn shucks are very common made into dolls.
Corncobs are also used as a biomass fuel source
Maize is relatively cheap and home-heating furnaces have been developed which use maize kernels as a fuel. They feature a large hopper which feeds the uniformly sized corn kernels (or wood pellets or cherry pits) into the fire.
Fun Corn Mazes
An unusual use for maize is to create a maize maze as a tourist attraction. This is a maze cut into a field of maize. The idea of a maize maze was introduced by Adrian Fisher, one of the most prolific designers of modern mazes, with The American Maze Company who created a maze in Pennsylvania in 1993. Traditional mazes are most commonly grown using yew hedges, but these take several years to mature. The rapid growth of a field of maize allows a maze to be laid out using GPS at the start of a growing season and for the maize to grow tall enough to obstruct a visitor's line of sight by the start of the summer. In Canada and the U.S., these are called "corn mazes" and are popular in many farming communities.
Maize is also used as fish bait called "dough balls". It is particularly popular in Europe for coarse fishing.
Stigmas from female corn flowers, known popularly as corn silk, are sold as herbal supplements.
Corn kernels can be used in place of sand in a sandbox-like enclosure for children's play.
Origin of Maize
Perhaps as early as 1500 BCE, maize began to spread widely and rapidly. As it was introduced to new cultures, new uses were developed and new varieties selected to better serve in those preparations. Maize was the staple food, or a major staple, of most the pre-Columbian North American, Mesoamerican, South American, and Caribbean cultures. The Mesoamerican civilization was strengthened upon the field crop of maize; through harvesting it, its religious and spiritual importance and how it impacted their diet. Maize formed the Mesoamerican people’s identity. During the 1st millennium CE (AD), maize cultivation spread from Mexico into the Southwest and a millennium later into Northeast and southeastern Canada, transforming the landscape as Native Americans cleared large forest and grassland areas for the new crop.
In 2005, research by the USDA Forest Service indicated that the rise in maize cultivation 500 to 1,000 years ago in what is now the southeastern United States contributed to the decline of freshwater mussels, which are very sensitive to environmental changes.