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Corny Christmas Contest, 1934 Guess the Number of Kernels

Corn guessing contest, 1934.

Back in December 1934, the Bloomington Association of Commerce (now the McLean County Chamber of Commerce) staged a “corny” promotion to boost downtown holiday retail sales. The approximately 58-by-13 inch glass container shown here was filled with two bushels of shelled corn. With every downtown retail purchase of 25 cents or more, Bloomington shoppers would receive a slip of paper to write down their guess, with the closest to the correct total receiving a $200 cash prize (that’s the equivalent of $3,500 in today’s dollars). Seen here (left to right) are Association of Commerce members Nate Crabtree (secretary), Harold Lang, and Blake Holton at the business group’s office.
Remarkably, four area residents correctly guessed that there were 212,792 grains in this container! The top prize was given to Danvers area farmer Walter Engel since he submitted the first of the four correct guesses. There was an additional $300 in cash and six turkeys also handed out as prizes. Winners were announced during “Santa Claus Day” festivities held Christmas Eve afternoon on the Courthouse Square.

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp is the Librarian at the McLean County Museum of History

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