“Ear” comes from the ancient word “ahs,” which meant “husk of corn.” In English, sometimes the ear also is referred to as a “cob” or a “pole.”

The ear is the spiked part of the corn plant that contains kernels, the delicious yellow tidbits we love to nibble on in the summertime. Each ear of corn is wrapped in a husk — a green, leafy layer that we peel back before feasting on this summer treat.

Don’t feel foolish if you thought an ear of corn had something to do with your ears — you’re not alone!

In the 16th century, Italian artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo created a painting he titled “Summer.” The painting depicts the bust of a man made from seasonal fruits and veggies: Peapods for lips, a cucumber nose, peach cheeks and — you guessed it — ears of corn!

Check out these kernels of corn knowledge:

  • Every row of corn on a corncob has the same number of kernels.
  • The average ear of corn has 800 kernels.
  • You can find corn in more than 3,000 products on your grocery shelves, including cereal, peanut butter and soft drinks.
  • Corn is grown on every continent except Antarctica.
  • More than 50 percent of the corn grown in the United States becomes food for livestock.
  • The main ingredient in most dry pet food is corn.

11 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (13 votes, avg. 4.54 out of 5)
    • What an AWESOME comment, Liberty! :) We’re so glad you enjoyed the passage and video about corn. Thank you for spending some time WONDERing with us today.

    • That’s a SUPER question, Aleknah. We’re not sure. We think it would be fun to get an ear of corn and try to figure the answer to your question out. We can’t wait to WONDER with you again! :)

    • We LOVE when Wonder Friends ask questions they aren’t sure about! Rows go back and forth and columns go up and down. Thanks for spending time WONDERing with us today! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Why do you call it an “ear” of corn?
  • How many kernels does an ear of corn have?
  • How do you make an edible work of art?

Wonder Gallery

Wonder #37 - Corn Static ImageVimeo Video

Try It Out

Hungry for more fun? Take some inspiration from Arcimboldo!

The next time you’re in the produce aisle at the grocery store, pick up some colorful fruits and vegetables to slice, dice and arrange into your own edible work of art.

Snap a picture of your vegetarian masterpiece and send it to Wonderopolis!  Email it to hello@wonderopolis.org or mail a copy to:

Wonderopolis HQ
325 West Main Street, Suite 300
Louisville, KY 40202-4237

Wonder Categories/Tags



cob  corn  ear  husk  kernel  origin  vegetable 

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