After having lived for months on board ship in cramped, dirty, smelly Corn vintage woodcut illustrationquarters, the Pilgrims finally sailed into Provincetown Harbor in November of 1620. On November 16, a group of 16, led by Myles Standish (also known as Captain Shrimp behind his back, being a tad short of stature) set off to explore the nearby environs.

They found fresh water at a place called Pilgrim Springs. (It wasn’t called that at the time they arrived.) Then at the top of a hill, hidden in a teepee, they found a cache of a funny sort of food — long ears with tidy little rows of yellow kernels. They called it corn and promptly stole it. The hill itself they called Hill Where We Stole the Corn from the Natives. That being quite a mouthful, it quickly got shortened to Corn Hill.

From this point the long historical march began to “I’m as corny as Kansas in August” and high fructose corn syrup.

What, you’re shouting — they just up and called it corn?

Yes kids, they did, but it’s really not that a-maize-ing (sorry). The word corn to Europeans at the time simply referred to grain, any grain. In England, wheat was “corn,” in Ireland oats were “corn” and in Indonesia rice was “corn.”

Today, Americans, Canadians and Australians are the only ones that call the yellow ears corn, To most people, it’s maize as in “I’m as maizy as Kansas in August.”


The trick to writing an aphorism is to place a period at the point where you’re inclined to say, “in other words….” ~Robert Brault


2 thoughts on “November 16, 1620: Kansas in August

  1. So, now that Richard has educated the American Marketing Association, do not be fooled if you see “high fructose maize syrup” on the label.

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