Hominy Grits are real and I make them.
"Hominy grits" is a term that has increasingly been in the public consciousness of late, so much so that the topic gets a mention in this informative article in the Washington Post.
I have waded into the grits vs. polenta vs. cornmeal argument in this article I wrote awhile back. On these topics, the author and myself are in complete agreement. The article unfortunately publishes another mill's claim that hominy grits "are extinct."
To investigate this claim, we need some agreement on terminology. Unfortunately, the term "hominy grits" has become a concept that is hopelessly vague. All that can be stated with any complete truthfulness is that hominy grits are made of corn and they are grits. The hominy part is the slippery bit. Even Edna Lewis makes no distinction between plain grits and hominy grits in her book In Pursuit of Flavor, My contention for years was that the term hominy must imply nixtamal, but after a few years of research on the topic, I feel this contention is wrong now.
Obviously, we have to pin down the term nixtamal now. Luckily, it is a clear-cut concept. Here is an explanation of the term nixtamal. This topic is vast, but let it suffice to say that nixtamal implies the corn has been treated with a strong base, whether it is ash cake (the Native American kind, according to author Betty Fussel) or hominy.
In her comprehensive book The Story of Corn, Betty Fussel contends that 'little hominy" has long been a term applied to grits. I feel that certainly not all of them were nixtamalized. "Big hominy" was just hominy, or nixtamalized kernels of corn. It is beyond my ability to ascertain precisely what dozens of food authors were cooking when they wrote "hominy grits," but (at least in modern times) given the scarcity of grits containing nixtamal, most certainly not all of their references to hominy grits were to grits containing actual hominy or any sort of nixtamalized corn. The etymology of the word hominy leads to Native America, but it is obviously an anglicization. Generally speaking, American settlers only took what they found useful without much attention to detail, and in this case, they paid a price later in the form of a particular kind of malnutrition called pellagra (an Italian word meaning "rough skin." There is no credible evidence that pellagra occurred in Native American pre-columbian populations.
Hominy was definitely dried and ground into grits by settlers, and quite possibly by Native Americans also, although in Mexico and Central America dried hominy was more likely ground into masa harina for tortillas or tamales ("tamale is derived from the word "nixtamal"). Grits can be nixtamalized after they are ground, but this is an esoteric method that haven't found any written reference to...yet. Nixtamalized grits certainly weren't unknown, given the rudimentary grinding system was known as a "hominy block," essentially a giant mortar and pestle.
So to insist that hominy grits have anything to with hominy (other than being made of corn) was wrong of me, even if the term hominy is often superfluous when applied to grits. But language is as hard to pin down as food. Don't expect your grits to contain nixtamalized corn unless it is stated, but you can always taste the unmistakable flavor of nixtamal.
Back when I started my mill about 2014, grits containing nixtamalized corn were practically impossible to find, so I saw an opportunity to make my mark and I introduced "Real Hominy Grits." These were coarsely ground yellow corn grits containing nixtamalized corn. The more I worked with nixtamal (as a guy who didn't know a thing about nixtamal or hominy just eight years before) the more I felt that it was a missing keystone in Southern cuisine. Therefore, I expanded my hominy grits selection to include Yellow Hominy Grits, White Hominy Grits, and Blue Hominy Grits. Click on the links to order yours and experience the true flavor of nixtamalized grits..real hominy grits.