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History of cornhole

History of Cornhole: Where was cornhole invented?


Old school cornhole game  played in the USA


Those new to cornhole often ask the question: “Where did Cornhole originate?” We did some digging into the history of cornhole and found some interesting theories that may surprise you. Keep reading to learn more!!


Roots of Cornhole: Cincinnati, Kentucky or dare I say Germany? 

To discover the origins of Cornhole, look no further than the Midwest region of the United States. If there is one city that is completely under the spell of Cornhole, it is Cincinnati, Ohio. 

It’s no surprise that my first encounter with Cornhole was during my college years at Miami of Ohio, where bean bags were often tossed outside of dorm rooms over a frosty can of Natty Light. 

The game was also huge at rival Ohio school, OSU. Some say the West side of Cincinnati was the first to play the game of cornhole as far back as the 1960’s, as mentioned in Cincinnati Magazine here


Vintage photo of young women playing cornhole in the 60's


However, Cornhole is also immensely popular in Kentucky. As the story goes, pioneer and farmer Jebediah McGillicuddy played the first version of "Baggo" in the distinctive mountains of Kentucky, after which the game spread like wildfire and the rest was history. 


Early Cornhole among Native American Tribes

Of course, the Cincinnati and Kentucky pioneers were not the first inhabitants of the American landscape. Legend tells of resourceful Native Americans from the Blackhawk Tribe in Illinois. They made bags from dried animal bladders (yes, bladders!), filled them with corn kernels, and then competed with them. This could very well be the origin of most sports games played with a ball today. 


The German influence on Cornhole

Some believe cornhole originated in Germany, where in 1325, a cabinet maker named Matthias Kuepermann, watching children throw stones into a dug hole (often injuring themselves), invented a less dangerous way to play using grain filled bags and a box made of cabinet materials lying around the shop. This may be an early version of the game. Note: At Cornhole Canvas, our cornhole boards are made of premium cabinet grade plywood. Mathias would be proud! 


Evolution of Cornhole Games in the USA


It’s easy to see how grain could be substituted for corn filled bags when the sport came overseas, given the abundance of corn crop and low corn prices in Ohio as well as plenty of immigrants and farmers who had arrived from Germany. 


“Parlor Quoits” - The Original Cornhole? 

Yet, in addition to the stories that have survived for generations, some of the most convincing evidence of Cornhole's origin can be found in the United States patent records. In 1883, Heyliger de Windt applied for a patent for "Parlor Quoits."

With this game, which could be the earliest version of a cornhole board; there was a square hole instead of a round hole in the board. This game was the first to be recorded where bags of corn were thrown onto a wooden board with a hole in it.Image from patent on Parlor Quoits game - a precursor to cornhole


Different Names for Cornhole

The sport we now know as cornhole seems to have been influenced by many different regions. No one can say for sure, but evidence of this is in the many different names the game has taken on. For example, if you are from Chicago, you might simply call it "Bags" while those in Kentucky would prefer to call it "Baggo" and your grandpa might simply call it "Bean Bag Toss". Whatever you call the game, it's clear the history of cornhole is multi-faceted.


Even More Names for Corn Hole

People also call it Cornhole, Bag Toss, Bean Bag Toss, Bags, Bean Bag Game, Bags Game, Tailgate Toss, Soft Horseshoes, Soft Horseshoes, Hillbilly Toss, Chuck-O, and Doghouse to name a few.


Cornhole remains permanently popular.

After a dive into the history of Cornhole, the question remains as to where exactly the addictive sport came from. Like farming, there is proof that Cornhole probably originated in several places at once, although history shows its origins are almost certainly in the United States. 

A Common Theme Among People Who Enjoy Cornhole

Despite the contradictory origin stories, there is one thing people from all these regions have in common: good food, drink, family, friends and a really good time. Cornhole is proving to be timeless, and the game can be enjoyed anywhere by anyone.


Cornhole: The Perfect Addition to Your Backyard Party

If you're inspired by the history and would like see first hand why the game has become so popular among so many people, pick up one of our many cornhole sets and start tossing! You won't regret it.


Texas Cornhole Set in Downtown Austin, TX




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