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Let’s Talk Cornhole: 24 True Facts (History, Origins, Game, Sport,…)

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

Cornhole has been around for a long time, so it’s loaded with exciting history. This backyard game quickly became a national sensation. Although it’s mostly popular in the USA, many stories bring it back to Germany. This game’s mysterious past and exciting future make it one of the most interesting sports around.

Cornhole came to the USA in the 1830s, but it wasn’t popularized until the 1970s when a company published a magazine edition about the game. In 2005, the American Cornhole Association was founded in Cincinnati. The sport traded corn for resin pellets, but it’s still played throughout the world.

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the fascinating history of cornhole. We’ll also discuss unique facts, events, and more. Enjoy!

1. Nobody Knows When or Where Cornhole Originated

There are countless stories about cornhole’s origins, ranging from Native American competitions to a man in Germany tossing stones into a hole for fun. However, nobody really knows when or where cornhole started. However, it’s very clear when it became popular in the United States.

2. Cornhole Likely Came to the USA in the 1800s

When Germans moved to the USA in the early 1800s, they brought this popular sport with them. Cornhole is a collection of numerous games played in various parts of the world. As these Germans settled around the Midwest, their love of the sport, combined with local games, refined the rules we know today.

3. Cornhole Used to Not Have Boards

Whether you believe cornhole came from a Kentucky farmer, a German man, or a Native American tribe, cornhole didn’t always have the wooden boards we use these days. Instead, people would dig small holes in the ground and toss corn into the hole. The boards added a unique scoring element by letting people get points from landing near the hole.

4. The Game Become Popularized in the 1970s

Beer Belly Bags explains Popular Mechanics released a magazine article about cornhole in the early ‘70s that brought it to the public. Thousands of people instantly had access to a game they hadn’t heard of before. 

5. Cornhole Bags Used to Have Real Corn in Them

Most cornhole bags now use plastic pellets or resin bits. However, they used to have corn in them. Unfortunately, corn quickly decays and affects the bag’s performance, which is why the switch was made.

6. The First Cornhole Patent Was Made in 1883

Cornhole Canvas states Heyliger de Windt applied for a patent on a game called Parlor Quoits. This version of cornhole used a wall board rather than the slanted ramp we know in modern times.

7. There Are Many Names for Cornhole

Cornhole also goes by bag toss, bag game, corn bag, and many other names. These names are often based on the location or material of the bag. For example, bean bag toss is made when people use dried beans in bags.

8. There’s a Movie About Cornhole

Not so surprisingly, the movie is called ‘Cornhole: The Movie.’ This comedic documentary follows people attending a cornhole tournament. While it’s not really a serious dive into the sport, it’s a lighthearted way to enjoy a game we know and love.

9. Cincinnati is a Cornhole Hotspot

Its local popularity is why the American Cornhole Association called Cincinnati the cornhole capital of the USA. It’s loaded with casual contests and competitive cornhole tournaments.

10. Cornhole is Mostly Popular in the Midwest

Its outreach spread all over the country, but there’s no denying the Midwest’s love of cornhole. There are more events and tournaments in the Midwest than anywhere else.

11. There’s a Professional Cornhole Association

The ACA hosts tournaments, provides rules, and handles everything related to cornhole. You can learn more about the American Cornhole Association on their website.

12. You Can Watch Live Cornhole in Person

While many people are interested in participating in cornhole tournaments, you can watch from the stands. The growing sport has led hosts to include chairs and bleachers for people who want to learn new skills or enjoy the casual competition.

13. Cornhole is Now Considered a Sport

The founding of the ACA officially ranked cornhole as a sport. Not only does this open the gates for featuring the game on ESPN and other sports networks, but it also increases funding, viewership, and sponsorships.

14. Cornhole Has Exclusive (and Interesting) Terms

Oola provides a list of fun cornhole terms, including The Great Cornholio, Corn on the Cob, and Nothin’ but Corn. These terms don’t mean much in an official tournament, but they’re definitely unique!

15. A Toy Company Tried to Monopolize Cornhole

Game Tables Guide shows a Massachusetts toy company designed a variation of cornhole known as Faba Baga. It didn’t outshine the traditional cornhole rules, which is why you might not have heard of the game these days.

16. Cornhole Quickly Became a Lawn and Tailgating Game

It’s one of the cheapest and quickest games to set up. Although it’s an official sport, you can play a game of cornhole with very minimal equipment. Not only does this make the game much more popular, but it also makes it more accessible to people who don’t want to get too much gear for sports like baseball, football, and hockey.

17. Cornhole Has Always Been Played to 21

While many sports go to a specific time length, cornhole goes by the points scored. One game can last for half an hour or finish in a few turns. If you land every shot in the hole, you only need seven shots to reach the score limit. Keep in mind that your opponent can reduce your points earned in the frame by scoring on your board.

18. The ACA Created Official Rules in 2005

When the American Cornhole Association was founded in 2005, it included numerous widely-accepted regulations. For example, cornhole boards have to be 27 feet away from each other. Players can work in groups of two or play in solos against each other. These rules give players something to follow without ruining the fun of the game.

19. There Are Pro Cornhole Players

While they don’t make as much as professionals in basketball, football, soccer, and other major sports, pro cornhole players can make a decent income from various tournaments. In order to be a professional and make a consistent living, these experts sign up for all of the most popular cornhole tournaments.

20. You Can Run a Cornhole Tournament

Cornhole is one of the few professional sports that lets you host your own tournament. You can register through the previously mentioned ACA website and start a group event or host one with a few friends in your backyard. Cornhole tournaments are becoming increasingly popular. All you have to do is Google ‘Cornhole Events Near Me’ to see the growing participation.

21. Cornhole Bags Always Have to Be Thrown Underhand

You can throw them overhand in your backyard or at a tailgating event, but professional cornhole rules detail that you have to toss them underhand. Furthermore, most tournaments require throwing the bags with one hand. Some people use two hands for more power, but you can’t do this method if you want to abide by the official rules.

22. Official Cornhole Boards Have to Be Tilted

The tilted board is designed to offer three scoring opportunities:

  1. Landing anywhere on the board scores one point.
  2. Making it through the hole scores three points.
  3. If the cornhole bag hangs halfway into the hole, it’s two points.

23. You Can Join Cornhole Leagues

Cornhole has plenty of leagues in almost every state in the country. These events are packed with beginners and experts alike. You can join for fun or try your hand at the grand prize. If you’re interested in joining a cornhole league, head over to the Board Decals league locator. Look for your state and find leagues near you.

24. In 2017, ESPN Aired a Cornhole Game for the First Time

Millions of viewers tuned in to watch ESPN’s broadcast of a cornhole tournament in 2017.

Final Thoughts

Cornhole has an interesting history, but there’s no doubt that this well-known sport will continue to grow. Records will be broken, its popularity will rise, and TV coverage will likely increase, but one thing is for certain: Cornhole will remain one of the top family games for many years to come.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.