Maize, or corn, is a cereal grain that was first domesticated by the indigenous peoples of southern Mexico about ten thousand years ago. Enjoyed worldwide, maize gained its own National Day thanks to Corrine Lightweaver, an artist who inadvertently started the day in 2004, when she and her family observed Thanksgiving from the standpoint of indigenous peoples.
Maize production outstrips that of rice and wheat, and feeds humans and animals alike. In fact, it has over 3,500 uses in cookery and industry. Here are some little-known kernels of information about maize:
- It's used in skincare because of its high level of Vitamin E.
- One bushel of corn can sweeten 400 cans of soft drinks in the form of corn syrup.
- Corn is used in ethanol production. Ethanol is added to gasoline to make it burn more cleanly, reducing air pollution.
- Native Americans used corn leaves as chewing gum, and it's still used as a component in modern chewing gums.
- Corn is grown on every continent, bar Antartica – which stands to reason.
We're celebrating this tasty grain with a Corn-on-the-Cob cocktail.
It's also Karl Benz's birthday
Born Karl Friedrich Michael Vaillant in Karlsruhe, Germany, on this day in 1844, Karl Benz would go on to fulfil his life's dream of designing a "horseless carriage", found Mercedes-Benz and invent an engine design still used in some high-performance vehicles today.
A child prodigy, who entered university at the age of only 15, Karl patented his first car, the three-wheeled Patent Motorwagen, in 1886: it was the world's first commercially available automobile. What better way to remember this car pioneer than with the RAC Cocktail, the house cocktail of Britain's Royal Automobile Club? It's a souped-up racer of a Perfect Martini.
Bernard Matthews passed away this day
For Britons of a certain age, farmer and businessman Bernard Trevor Matthews CVO CBE QSM, who died on this day in 2010 aged 79, is as synonymous with the festive season as Jingle Bells, his catchphrase "They're bootiful" a flashback to childhood.
For others, the man whose thick Norfolk accent enlivened a thousand TV screens is more associated with Turkey Twizzlers and animal cruelty. Whichever. This mechanic's son, who started a three hundred million Pound business on the equivalent, in today's money, of two pounds fifty, worked his way up to a villa in Saint Tropez and a stately home in his native Norfolk.
We're drinking to Bernard Matthews' entrepreneurialism and thinking about placing an order for our Christmas turkey with our Rum Swizzle cocktail. And we are pretty sure you, like us, will find it "bootiful".