Nugget of Knowledge: Corn and Corned Beef

Corned beef not a big thing in Ireland


Corned beef has become a traditional St. Patrick’s Day food..

But why is it called “corned” beef when there’s no actual corn involved?

And how do you corn beef anyway?

Corned beef is beef cured in salt.

The word “corn” comes from an Old English word meaning “large grain or pellet.”

The British invented the term “corned beef” in the 17th century to describe the size of the salt crystals they used to cure the meat, the size of corn kernels.

Corned beef and cabbage is an Irish American dish, not really popular in Ireland.

It’s a spring dish, because it used to be cured over the winter.

Among famous people to enjoy it: President Abraham Lincoln ate corned beef and cabbage at his inauguration dinner in March, 1861.

One of President Grover Cleveland’s favorite dishes was corned beef and cabbage.

Instead of corned beef and cabbage, the traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal eaten in Ireland is lamb or bacon.


Did you miss an episode of Daybreak or want to re-visit a previous ‘Nugget’? View previous ‘Nugget of Knowledge’ entries on

If you have an idea for a ‘Nugget of Knowledge,’ send your idea in an email to