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DeKalb 'Flying Corn' Logo History Lecture Part Of 'Local Lore' Series

A DeKalb Winged Ear logo sign (c.1940) on display at the Ellwood House Museum in DeKalb, Ill.
Katie Finlon
Several DeKalb Winged Ear logo signs were on display within the Ellwood House Museum in DeKalb, Ill. This metal sign was made in 1940, but the signs were no longer constructed with metal after that because of the World War II metal shortage.

The DeKalb “flying corn” logo’s history was the subject for this month’s Local Lore adult lecture series. It’s the second year the Ellwood House Museum hosted the series with the help of other area history groups.

Patrons applauded as Donna Langford, with the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association – or DAAHA, walked to the podium to begin her lecture about the DeKalb Winged Ear logo. It's the familiar ear of corn with wings and the word “DeKalb” written across the ear.

Langford said in her presentation that the logo was first created in the 1930s for the DeKalb Agricultural Association to promote their own type of hybrid corn, which was a new concept at the time. And, she said, the Mobil Pegasus logo was part of the inspiration.

“So as they were talking in their offices, rumor has it that the group of men that were talking about, ‘what are we gonna do for a logo?,’ looked out the windows and saw the gas station and loved the concept of the wings,” Langford said.

Langford said the logo underwent several changes since then to reflect changing company missions or to move to different sign materials. She said DAAHA also will be working with area third-graders soon to create a timeline of the logo.

Ellwood House curator Tricia Runzel said the groups try to have some lectures in the series coincide with other events.

“So in March, we did a program on the women married to the barbed wire barons, and March is Women’s History Month,” Runzel said.

And Runzel said the October lecture will touch on the DeKalb Fire Department’s history, since October is Fire Prevention Month.