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Harina P.A.N. (Producto Alimenticio Nacional) is the first brand of boiled corn flour in Venezuela. The brand itself became a synecdoche, as even with other large competitors in the market, it is used as a noun to indicate any similar maize flour. This flour is similar to the main ingredient of the Italian Polenta.
Harina PAN is used to make the maize flour dough also known as "masa de arepa" or "masarepa", which is used to make Venezuelan and Colombian dishes such as arepas, hallacas, or bollos. Harina PAN is found in varieties made from white and yellow corn. It contains no additives and is considered suitable for those with restricted diets.
The traditional preparation of arepa flour is very labor-intensive, requiring the pounding of maize in a large mortar. Pre-made arepa flour was invented in the 1950s by Dr. Luis Caballero Mejias, a Venezuelan engineer who used the profits from his patent to finance a Technical Schools system. The precooked flour was later mass-produced and sold in larger quantities.
In 1954, the Venezuelan beer and malted drinks company Empresas Polar developed an industrial production method, launching the brand in 1960.
The product rapidly gained acceptance among housewives because of the tremendous saving in labor and its high quality. The original slogan was "Se acabó la piladera", which means "No more pounding". Harina PAN has remained essentially unchanged since then, as can be seen from the original advertisements.
It has become an essential ingredient in Venezuelan and Colombian cooking, with websites dedicated to locating the nearest distributor in several countries in the world. Pre-made arepa flour is specially prepared for making arepas and other maize dough-based dishes, such as hallacas, bollos, tamales, empanadas, and chicha. The most popular brand names of corn flour are Harina PAN in Venezuela, and Areparina in Colombia . Pre-made arepa flour is usually made from white corn, but there are yellow corn varieties available.