Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Wonder Friend. Wonder Friend Wonders, “Why Are They Called "Ears" of Corn?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Wonder Friend!
We were walking past the Wonderopolis barn the other day when we overheard an interesting conversation between a couple of cows:
Bessie: Psst! Molly! Can you keep a secret? Come out to the field and I'll tell you.
Molly: No! Not out in the field. Tell me here.
Bessie: Why not out in the field?
Molly: You can't tell a secret out in the field, Bessie! It's a field of corn. There are too many ears!
Molly: Sorry! Was that joke too corny for you?
We agree with Bessie. That was a bad joke. But it did get us to WONDER about why they're called "ears" of corn. As it turns out, it doesn't have anything to do with the ears on your head.
“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 kernels are the delicious yellow tidbits we love to nibble on in the summertime.
Each ear of corn is wrapped in a husk. The husk is the 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 head 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.