Maizena is a brand name for a popular cornstarch used in countries such as Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. It creates a rich, thick consistency when added to gravies and sauces.
Maizena is gluten-free, which makes it an excellent substitute for flour in cakes, pastries and cookies. The brand was created in 1856 by the Duryea brothers whose company was already selling cornstarch in grocery stores. However, they felt that boxed packaging ensured a safer, more wholesome product. During the 1930s, Maizena was introduced to Mexico by a company that eventually became Unilever. Although the Maizena brand started as cornstarch, it expanded to include flavored mixes to create healthy hot drinks called atole.