Corn Nuts (later CornNuts) were invented by Albert Holloway and Olin Huntington in 1936, 1 and called them "Olin's Brown Jug Toasted Corn". Beginning in approximately 1948, CornNuts were manufactured in a relatively small factory in the South Stonehurst neighborhood at 10229 Pearmain Street; the building still exists.
Corn Nuts are made by soaking corn kernels in water to rehydrate them, then deep-frying them, though ads refer to them as "lightly toasted". There are similar snack foods in Central and South America, as well as the Philippines.
For a time, Holloway used Cuzco corn imported from Peru which has larger kernels, but WWII cut off that supply. He tried growing it in the U.S. without success.
Albert's sons Maurice and Rich joined the business, then took over in the 1950s.
Unable to use Cuzco corn, a hybrid was developed that was used beginning in 1964. 5
In the 1980s, the company sponsored a "tall corn" contest as a marketing gimic. 6
In 1982, the company sued over the use of Pac-Man images on various snack foods, arguing it was confusingly similar to their trademark 1965 logo. 7 A year later the suit was settled; the companies agreed to stop using the logo, and Cornnuts dropped the lawsuit. 3
Maurice Holloway enjoyed river rafting, so in 1983, the company produced special packaging to encourage donations to stop plans to built a dam on the Tuolumne River. It used the tagline "Man does not live by cornnuts alone." 9
The company was owned by Holloway's family until 1997, when it was purchased by Nabisco 10 and merged into Nabisco's Planters subsidiary. Since 2007, CornNuts, Planters and Nabisco have all been part of Kraft Foods. In 2021, the snack was sold to Hormel Foods. 3
The snack no longer use larger corn. 1
Links and References
- Corn nut on Wikipedia
- CornNuts website
- The Bay Area history of Corn Nuts, America's most controversial snack SFGate May 24, 2021
- Snack maker Cornnuts says 'nuts' to drought San Francisco Examiner February 17, 1991 (p2)
- Cornnuts turn 50 Oakland Tribune July 16, 1985 (p2)
- Mt. Orab Farmer In Running For Cornnuts Inc. Tall Corn Crown Hillsboro Press Gazette September 1, 1982
- Make Of Cornnuts Claims Sole Rights To Pac-Man-Like Images Oakland Tribune July 6, 1982
- Combines gobble up good Cornnuts crop Urbana Daily Citizen October 28, 1982
- Cornnuts joins fight for river Modesto Bee November 23, 1983 (p2)
- Nabisco Acquires Cornnuts The Californian November 7, 1997
- Oakland: The Cornnut Capital Chicago Tribune June 12, 1972
- Stalking the Cornnut Fresno Bee June 23, 1985 (p2)