Cornhole, Schmornhole, It's Bean Bag Toss To Me


I was reading in the paper yesterday that State Rep. Bill Farmer wants to designate cornhole as the official Kentucky state game. 

Alrighty, then.

For a long time, I thought I was the only one who had heard the term ‘cornhole’ as it referred to something else. Something you wouldn’t play at a picnic, something you might play in, oh – I don’t know . . . say, prison, perhaps? Back in the day before caller ID, when there was a thing called Obscene Phone Calls, I got one in which the word cornhole was used. 

So imagine my surprise when I moved to Kentucky and started hearing references to playing cornhole, having cornhole tournaments, being a cornhole champion and buying new cornhole sets and accessories. (It made me uncomfortable just to type the word that many times just now.)

Whenever I would hear a reference to it I would hold in my snort and look around, hoping to see another aghast expression, but everyone around me acted as though it was as normal as making moonshine in the holler. 

That is, until I was at a family reunion and someone yelled, “Anybody want to play cornhole?” My brother-in-law Dan turned to me and said in a low voice, “I don’t know about you, but in New York, where I’m from, if someone asks you if you want to play cornhole, you’re gonna want to say no.”

Even the business columnist that was writing about it in theHerald Leader yesterday said, in so many words, if you must make cornhole the state game, please rename it. He says the name would make Kentucky the “butt” of too many jokes (the quotes are his). He suggested Corn Toss, Baggo, Kentucky Horseshoes and some others. But let’s face it, it’s Bean Bag Toss plain and simple. You take a bean bag, you throw it and you try to get it into a hole. You don’t have to be a clever rocket scientist or even have all your teeth to know that what you’re playing is Bean Bag Toss.

In Chicago the game is sometimes called Bags, although people from other states claim that’s even worse. You can find sleaze almost anywhere if you look long and hard enough. (That’s what she said.)

Yet, there is an American Cornhole Association with a charter, game rules and regulations, and equipment standards. The organization sells a t-shirt that says “Play Cornhole. It’s Not What You Think.”  If the game is renamed in Kentucky and the new name catches on, the ACA is going to have to change all of its stationery and those t-shirts will be just dirty.

Cornhole is not just a Kentucky thing. It’s pretty big in Ohio, too. (Take that, critics!) At my family reunion in Hubbard, Ohio, the southern Ohio contingent has introduced cornhole as the official Lueke Family Reunion Yard Game to be Played by Preteen and Adult Men Who Aren’t Playing Poker in the Pavilion.

Because we’re so classy, we’ve upgraded it a bit. My sister Kathy and my nieces Linda and Susan showed their true Martha Stewart colors by making a stylish cornhole game for Susan’s college graduation party. In shades of chartreuse and periwinkle, it had matching beanbags in a peace-sign batik design. I love when the cool people take over something redneck and make it chic. Makes me proud to be a native Ohioan.