The origins of bean bag toss or cornhole are unclear. Some say it was invented in 14th century Germany by a farmer who may have been named Matthias Kueperman. Apparently he saw some boys throwing some heavy rocks into a hole and thought of making a safer game. German immigrants who settled in the U.S. brought the game with them [source: Cornhole Game Fun].
Others insist it was actually a Kentucky farmer in the early 1900s who inspired the game [source: Cornhole Game Fun]. Either way, it became popular in pockets of the Midwest but may have gotten its big break when far-flung relatives visiting family -- or tailgating at Cincinnati Bengals football games -- saw it in action and helped spread the word around the U.S. [source: Cornhole].
Bean bag toss is quite similar to a game once played by the Native American Blackhawk tribe in Illinois, although game players tossed pig bladders filled with dry beans instead of corn-filled fabric squares [source: Ungar].
Today, bean bag toss is the fodder of charity fundraisers, school carnivals and amateur tournaments. There's even a professional organization, the American Cornhole Organization, with tournament competition formatted much like college basketball's Final Four. The cornhole field is narrowed from a nationwide pool of 64 players to the CornyForty (top 40) to the Top Gun Twenty (top 20) before resulting in a champion named the "King of Cornhole." And, because the tournaments have a professional, rather than amateur, designation, players can win prize purses and sport pro jerseys [source: American Cornhole Organization].