Corned beef is a salt-cured beef product. The term comes from the treatment of the meat with large grained rock salt, also called "corns" of salt.
It was popular during both World Wars, when fresh meat was rationed. Corned beef remains popular in the United Kingdom and is commonly used in sandwiches and corned beef hash.
Corned beef, also called corned beef brisket, is a popular meat item that hearkens back to the days before refrigeration. Faced with the challenge of preserving fresh meat for the winter season, butchers would routinely pack beef or pork products in salt to prevent the formation of bacteria and mold. Meats like beef brisket could also be pickled in a spicy, salty brine. At one time, the word corn referred to a number of kernels or seeds, including the coarse salt granules packed around the brisket. Thus the meat was called "corned" in reference to the corns of salt.