What Type Of Corn Is Used In Corn Flakes?

Corn Flakes cereal has been a breakfast staple for more than a century. The Kellogg brothers, W.K. and John Harvey started out experimenting with wheat berries, but they made the switch to corn and found a way to make a toasted flake out of milled corn. This product hit the markets in 1906 and has remained a featured item on supermarket shelves and kitchen tables to this day.

The recipe for corn flakes is deceptively simple. Check the side of the box, and there are basically four main ingredients: milled corn, malt flavor, sugar, and salt. There are also a number of added vitamins and minerals to boost the nutritional value of the cereal. But the real star of the show is corn, and the type of corn used makes all the difference. Several different companies make a version of corn flakes, and they rely on field corn to produce this classic cereal. 

Tough corn makes great cereal

So what is field corn? This variety of corn is also known as dent corn because of the indentations that form in the kernels during the drying process. It's tougher than the corn found at the farmers' market and in supermarkets. It's also not sweet, so taking an ear from the stalk and eating wouldn't be pleasant. Yellow dent corn was developed originally by crossbreeding floury and flint varieties. The result is one hardy kind of corn.

Crops of this kind of corn are left to dry in the fields and then harvested. The hardened kernels are milled, and then it becomes a key ingredient in many food products, from corn syrup to corn starch to corn flakes. Field corn has many other uses, including feeding livestock and producing ethanol. A third of the corn grown in the United States comes from two states –- Illinois and Iowa.

For its European operations, Kellogg's turned to a relative of field corn as part of its efforts to sustainably farmed corn in 2019. To accompany this goal, the company turned to farmers in Argentina who grow a special strain of corn that flourishes in that environment. According to several reports, they are producing flint corn. This variety earned its name for its tough exterior.