Corn is found only in cultivated environments. A wild grass, Teosinte (Zea mexicana) is the ancestor of all known species and grows wild in remote areas of Central America.
Native Americans throughout the Americas grew corn as a major food crop. The oldest known remains of corn are 7,000 years old. Christopher Columbus brought corn or maize to Spain when he returned in 1493. It spread quickly, following the trade routes in the early 1500s.
Native Americans cultivated flint (or field) corn, sharing many different kinds with the colonists. In 1779, Papoon was the first recorded sweet corn variety obtained from Iroquois Indians. In 1821, a Connecticut seed company listed sugar corn in their catalog. Early Americans preferred white kernel corn to yellow, possibly because Papoon was white.
James Vick's Flower and Vegetable Garden Book, published in 1880, listed many sweet corn varieties. He described Stowell's Evergreen as: "Magnificent late variety, keeping in eating until frost." Stowell's Evergreen was introduced in 1853 and Country Gentleman was introduced in 1890. Seed is still available for these old time varieties. Both have white kernels but the popularity of white corn changed in 1902 with the introduction of W. Atlee Burpee Company's Golden Bantam, one of the most popular varieties ever.
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment program released the first hybrid Redgreen in 1924. Golden Cross Bantam, released by Purdue University in 1932 is still widely planted. Corn is found only found in cultivated environments.