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].
Author's Note: How Bean Bag Toss Works
I'd just finished a traditional Kansas Thanksgiving when I encountered a game I'd probably seen played before, but never knew by name: cornhole. After asking at least three times whether I'd heard correctly, I realized it was indeed named "cornhole" and that it was as simple -- and fun -- as it looked. The stuff of tailgate parties and school carnivals, this game is addictive and allows players to participate across generations. What could be bad about that?
- American Cornhole Association. "ACA Official Rules of Cornhole / Corn Toss." July 13, 2009. (July 18, 2013) http://www.playcornhole.org/rules.shtml
- American Cornhole Organization. "Got an ACO Cornhole FAQ?" (July 19, 2013) http://www.americancornhole.com/aco-cornhole-faq/
- Betts, Stephen. "Dierks Bentley Stirs Up a Snazzy 'Cocktail.'" The Boot. Aug. 27, 2009. (July 18, 2013) http://theboot.com/dierks-bentley-stirs-up-a-snazzy-cocktail/
- Cornhole. "History of Cornhole." (July 18, 2013) http://www.cornhole.com/category-s/49.htm
- Cornhole Game Fun. "An Interesting Cornhole Game History." (July 19, 2013) http://www.cornholegamefun.com/cornhole-game-history.html
- Dyke, Jeremiah. "Teaching Integer Addition and Multiplication Tables Using Corn-hole." Hands on Math. Nov. 20, 2012. (July 19, 2013) http://handsonmath.blogspot.com/2012/11/teaching-integer-addition.html
- iCornHole. "So, What is Cornhole?" (July 18, 2013) http://www.icornhole.com/whatiscornhole.php
- Light Foundation. "First Annual Cornhole Competition." June 1, 2013. (July 18, 2013) http://www.mattlightfoundation.org/events/1st-annual-light-foundation-cornhole-commotion-for-a-cause/
- McAlexander, Shana. "Accuracy Versus Precision Beanbag Toss." Carolina Biological Supply. (July 20, 2013) http://www.carolina.com/teacher-resources/interactive/accuracy-versus-precision-beanbag-toss/tr10646.tr
- O'Shea, Chris. "How to be Much Better at Cornhole." Esquire. May 17, 2013. (July 18, 2013) http://www.esquire.com/blogs/culture/how-to-play-cornhole
- Stefanoff, Holly. "Cornhole, Corn Toss, Bean Bag Toss or Whatever You Know it as, is Quickly Becoming a Favorite Pastime." The Review. June 1, 2008. (July 18, 2013) http://www.reviewonline.com/page/content.detail/id/502580.html
- Ungar, Stuart. "For a Game With Regional Flair, Try Cornhole." Courier-Journal. May 29, 2005. (July 23, 2013) http://blogs.courier-journal.com/youthsports/2013/05/29/for-a-game-with-regional-flair-try-cornhole/
- Watts, Cindy. "Craig Campbell Hosts 'Celebrity Cornhole' Charity Event in Nashville." The Tennessean. May 31, 2013. (July 18, 2013) http://blogs.tennessean.com/tunein/2013/05/31/craig-campbell-hosts-celebrity-cornhole-charity-event-in-nashville/