The History of Cornhole – More than a game

The History of Cornhole - cornhole historyBeanbags, Lawn Toss, Tailgate Toss, or simply Bags, there are a multitude of names that can be used to described one game. However the most well-known, and accepted, is Cornhole. You’ve no doubt played this game, or at least have heard of it. You may be shocked to hear that it actually has a pretty storied past. We’ll do our best to uncover the history of Cornhole and provide a little insight into one of the most popular and standard tailgating games out there.

A mysterious origin

While there isn’t a set agreement about where Cornhole was officially created it is widely believed that it was invented by a German named Matthias Kuepermann in the 14th century. Mr. Kuepermann was a skillful cabinet maker by trade. One day he noticed some young boys playing a game that involved throwing rocks into holes in the ground that were created by ground hogs. Realizing that this was unsafe he set out to create something safer for the kids to play with. So he built a wooden board set that had a hole cut in it and he swapped out the rocks for bags filled with corn. Little did he know that the game would still be played and enjoyed by millions to this day.

Cornhole capital, USA

Cornhole enthusiasts from the United States will argue where the game had first been discovered within the country. Some fans will state that a version of the game was played by the Native Americans in the Midwest, using animal bladders filled with corn and digging holes in the ground. Citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio vehemently agree that Cornhole was originated there. With Cincinnati having such a large Germanic background, and Matthias Kuepermann being German, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched that the game transferred over here to the new world. However, residents of Kentucky say their state was the birthplace for Cornhole. It is thought that farmers created this game back in the pioneer days as something to do for fun. While the true birthplace may never be known, what’s certain is that the game is still enjoyed by all sorts of people throughout the country.

The rules of Cornhole

Depending on who and where you are playing Cornhole there may be a variety of rules, but the game does have its own The History of Cornhole - cornhole historygoverning body (honestly, this is true) called the American Cornhole Organization. According to its website it was established in 2005 and the ACO “offers official cornhole rules, sanctioned products, tournament listings, and comprehensive information about cornhole events”. While they list out a very detailed list of rules, here are some generally accepted rules to get you started:

  • On a flat surface set your boards facing each other with 27 feet between each board.
  • Cornhole is typically played with 2 or 4 players. Each person/team will pick which side of the board they will throw from. In a 4 player game, your partner will be lined up directly in across from you at the other board. In a 2 person game, you will start at one side of the board and then alternate to the other side for the next turn. You’ll continue to alternate throughout the game.
  • Once you decide who goes first you will take turns with your opponent on throwing the bags. Your feet are not allowed to pass the front edge of the board.
  • A bag may not touch the ground. If it touches the ground and rolls up onto the board it must be removed at once. Additionally, if it is hanging off of the board and touching the ground, remove it.
  • Once all the bags are thrown (8 in total) you’ll need to total up your points. The person/team with the most points will throw first in the next round.
  • A bag remaining on the board is worth 1 point. A bag that goes through the hole is worth 3 points. Points can cancel each other out when they equal each other. As an example, if you score 6 points and your opponent scores 4, you will have earned 2 points towards your overall score and you will throw first next round. If both of you scored 6 points then nothing will be awarded and whoever threw first last round will start the next round.
  • The game is won by the first team that scores 21 points in total. Some variations allow that you must reach exactly 21 and if you go over that amount you start back at 11.

More than just a game

Over the years the rise and popularity of Cornhole has skyrocketed. While it may have started off as a simple game to be played while tailgating, at the pub, or a backyard BBQ, it now has officially sanctioned tournaments all over the world for all age groups. ESPN even broadcasts the World Cornhole Championships, which pulled in better ratings than Major League Baseball during one day in July, 2017.

Conclusion

I think its safe to say that Cornhole is more than a passing trend. It’s a game that just about anyone with a pulse can play and is enjoyed by people of all ages. Personally, I’ve made so many fun and entertaining memories playing this game with family and friends. For being such a simple game it can really bring out your competitive spirit. Sound off in the comments below with your best victory/heart-breaking loss/or favorite memory!

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