Discover Why Nebraska Is Called the Cornhusker State

Written by Erin Whitten
Updated: October 25, 2023
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Nebraska, where the Midwest’s heartbeat can be felt in every corner, holds a name that invites curiosity: “The Cornhusker State.” You may be asking, what is the real story behind this name? Stick with us as we dive into Nebraska’s past, peeling back the corn threads that tied it to such a distinct title.

Why Is Nebraska Called the Cornhusker State?

Ripe corn on the cob

At the heart of this incredible transformation lies the thriving cultivation of a staple crop: corn.


Nebraska was originally a barren expanse. Yet, over time, it has undergone a remarkable shift into an agricultural powerhouse. At the heart of this incredible transformation lies the thriving cultivation of a staple crop: corn.

Origins of the Name

“Cornhusking” describes the manual removal of husks from corn. Before modern machinery, farmers hand-stripped these husks, highlighting their dedication to farming. The term “cornhuskers” gained fame when sportswriter Charles S. Sherman used it in 1900 for the University of Nebraska’s sports teams. By 1945, with its strong ties to agriculture evident, the legislature adopted “Cornhusker State” as its official nickname.

From Trees to Corn

Before the “Cornhusker State” nickname, Nebraska proudly called itself the “Tree Planters State” for its transformation from plains to tree-covered expanses. By the 1940s, corn dominated Nebraska’s agricultural scene. Recognizing this shift in 1945, the Nebraska Legislature replaced the “Tree Planters” title with the now beloved “Cornhusker State.”

Iconic Symbols: Celebrating Beyond Corn

Every state in the U.S. has symbols that represent its history, and culture. Let’s dive into some of the state symbols that give Nebraska its unique identity.

State Animal: White-Tailed Deer

White-tailed deer buck in snow

Nebraska’s state mammal, the white-tailed deer, is a symbol of the wild spirit of the plains.


Nebraska’s state mammal, the white-tailed deer, is a symbol of the wild spirit of the plains. Known for its white underside to its tail, it can be seen gracefully darting across meadows and forests throughout the state.

State Bird: Western Meadowlark

A Beautiful Western Meadowlark Perched on a Fence Post on the Plains of Colorado

Nebraska’s state bird symbolizes the state’s connection to nature.

©Kerry Hargrove/

With its cheerful melody, the Western Meadowlark, Nebraska’s state bird, symbolizes the state’s connection to nature and the vast open spaces that define its landscape.

State Drink: Kool-Aid

Bursting with color and flavor, Nebraska proudly claims Kool-Aid as its official state soft drink. This iconic drink has a rich history, having been invented in 1927 by Edwin Perkins in the city of Hastings, NE. Kool-Aid was produced as a juice-like liquid called “Fruit Smack.” As time went by, it underwent a transformation, evolving into the beloved powdered mix known worldwide today as Kool-Aid.

State Tree: The Cottonwood

Large Fremont cottonwood tree with spreading branches, green leaves, and a rough bark along the river hiking trail at Capitol Reef National Park in Utah

Able to thrive in Nebraska’s varied climate, the cottonwood is the state’s official tree.

©C Belt/

Standing tall against the backdrop of Nebraska’s skyline is the state tree, the cottonwood. Known for its resilience and its ability to thrive in the state’s varied climate, the cottonwood is a symbol of strength and endurance.

State Flower: The Goldenrod

goldenrod in bloom

The goldenrod perfectly demonstrates Nebraska’s natural beauty. 


Brightening the Nebraska landscapes with its vibrant yellow hues, the goldenrod is the state’s official flower. Blooming from late summer to early fall, the goldenrod is a testament to Nebraska’s natural beauty. 

Other Notable Features of Nebraska

Nebraska’s significance extends beyond cornfields and Kool-Aid. Let’s explore.

Natural Wonders

Nebraska is home to some unique natural wonders:

  • Chimney Rock: An iconic landmark for pioneers traveling westward.
  • Sandhills: The largest sand dune formation in the Western Hemisphere, these dunes cover one-fourth of the state and are a vital ecosystem.

College World Series

Every year, Omaha becomes the epicenter of college baseball, hosting the NCAA Men’s College World Series. The event draws fans from across the country, celebrating the best of collegiate baseball.

Buffett’s Birthplace

Omaha, NE, is the birthplace of Warren Buffett, the renowned billionaire investor, and philanthropist.

Rich Agricultural Legacy

Beyond corn, Nebraska is a leading producer of beef, pork, soybeans, and sorghum. The state’s agricultural output plays a significant role in feeding the nation.

Historical Sites

From Native American history to modern innovations, Nebraska is dotted with sites of historical importance:

  • Fort Robinson State Park: A former U.S. Army fort and now a state park, it witnessed several significant events in the Western expansion.
  • Stuhr Museum: Located in Grand Island, this living history museum offers a glimpse into pioneer life.


In Alliance, NE, there’s a unique monument called Carhenge which is a replica of England’s Stonehenge, made entirely out of old cars. It’s a quirky roadside attraction that captures the imagination of many visitors yearly.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Nalaphotos/

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About the Author

Erin Whitten is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily covering dogs, food, and travel. She earned her BA in Communications and Digital Media from Arizona State University in 2019. A resident of Massachusetts, Erin enjoys hanging out with her shelter cat Azula and taking photos of other animals.

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