Eating corn on the cob can be a thrillingly grueling task, what, with kernels getting stuck in your teeth as they graze the cob's surface, typewriter-style. It's truly arduous, and requires immediate access to floss. For some, this can make eating corn on the cob a more painstaking than pleasurable experience. But there's a marvelous return of investment.
At the end of last month, one Japanese Twitter user, @alovesun, presented a method that’s been interpreted as a solution to this dilemma. "The thing that shocked me the most after moving to Hokkaido,” the caption accompanying the tweet read, “was how they eat corn." It’s a tweet with four process shots that demonstrate the following step-by-step technique of eating corn on the cob:
Pluck out a column of kernels on a half of a cob, creating a groove large enough to rest your thumb in.
Press your thumb into a column of kernels adjacent to that groove.
Slide the column towards the opening, letting the kernels slide off the cob.
These numbers—over 39,000 retweets, 41,000 likes—are nothing to sneeze at, and it’s no surprise that this tweet is slowly making its way outside Japan. A BuzzFeed video purports to show proof that this technique really works.
Shop the Story
The video goes into greater detail than that initial tweet. BuzzFeed's technique involves breaking the corn ears into halves, wrapping them in plastic, and sticking them in the microwave for roughly 7 minutes. It’s followed by creating an opening that’s just large enough for you to slip your thumb into, allowing you to shuck away at the beads of corn with fury and abandon.
We tried this with ears of corn brought from the local Fairway Market, and, well, it worked—though our endorsement comes with caveats. After strumming away at the beads of microwaved corn (and doing the same for raw corn), we found this technique applies more to the harder kernels than heated ones. Heat compromises the integrity of the kernels (the hotter the corn, the mushier the consistency of their beads), which end up needing more coaxing than pearls of uncooked corn.
So what's the point—and what of this end result? A cob that's cleaner than one you've ravaged with your teeth? I don't eat corn on the cob for its cosmetic value, but I have to admit I've never seen one as naked as this one.
I can’t say I’m quite convinced to adopt this method—I’d rather buy a bag of frozen corn kernels than eat these individual kernels, torn from their hosts. I can’t easily slather a cob with butter, or any other topping of my choice, before I pry away at them. As a method of eating corn on the cob, well, it’s a surefire way of blanching this activity of the fun.
How do you eat corn on the cob? Let us know in the comments.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.