Corn on the cob is an American summer icon. Corn, or maize, is practically part of the heartland’s landscape, creating the backdrop for many a road trip. In fact, it’s one of the only crops indigenous to the New World, originating in what we now call Central America. However, corn has a much longer history than the country that calls it a staple.
6600 BCE – 3500 BCE
Corn was domesticated in Honduras around this time. It quickly became a food staple for the indigenous peoples in the Americas from Peru to Mexico, contributing to population growth. It was the “it” crop at the time, because you know what they say – “yellow is the new black.”
15th & 16th Centuries
Corn continued to spread quickly over the southern regions of North America since it was a hearty food source with plenty of uses. When Columbus sailed the ocean blue (and forgot that he wasn’t in the West Indies), he first touched land in the Caribbean. Columbus met corn, corn met Columbus – and consequently the rest of the world did, too. The European explorers dubbed it maize, from the Taino word “mahiz”.
Corn became ubiquitous in the Americas, being the main ingredient for tortillas, breads, stews, tamales, puddings and even beverages. Corn on the cob, an American classic, is known as Elote in Mexico, where it’s boiled or roasted and served on a stick or with the husk as a handle. It’s a beloved street food favorite, and it’s easy to see why since this humble crop makes the perfect vehicle for all sorts of savory add-ons.
Quite possibly Home Chef’s favorite preparation of corn is elotes, a.k.a deliciousness on a stick. Elotes are a popular late-night snack for many Mexicans, and have quickly become a favorite all-day snack for us, too! Street vendors across Mexico and large cities in the U.S. all have their own take on elotes, but they all start with the same simple ingredients. Corn, mayonnaise or butter, chihuahua cheese, chili powder, cilantro, lime and salt are combined to make a wanting-seconds snack.
Try our take on elotes at home with our Mexican Street Corn Salad.