The "Best" Way to Eat Corn on the Cob, According to the Internet

July 20, 2017

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:

  1. Pluck out a column of kernels on a half of a cob, creating a groove large enough to rest your thumb in.
  2. Press your thumb into a column of kernels adjacent to that groove.
  3. 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.

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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.

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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.


petalpusher August 11, 2017
We like to eat our fresh corn on the cob slathered with homemade pesto. It's a mess, your teeth can look and feel pretty scary, but among friends its the best, because it's freakin' summer! I'm sure it's why floss was invented.
ghainskom July 21, 2017
I do both: off the cobb and Hokkaido-style. But: I do not eat my corn with butter and I think Hokkaido-style is not compatible with butter on the cobb. Instead, we grill or boil the cobs as is (no butter, no salt, no nothing, and we do not boil them to the point of them being muschy, like the pre-cooked corn cobbs found at the grocery store) and that is quite compatible with eating them Hokkaido-style. And it is actually quite fun: as a kid, the game was to try and have as many corn kernels sticking together as possible, and then we would gobble them down like peanuts.
tamater S. July 21, 2017
I freaked when I read, "pre-cooked corn cobbs found at the grocery store" As a child, we weree sent out to the corn patch to pick 'X' number of combs for dinner, combs with the silk 'just so' (no brown silk). Even the city I lived in for several years had corn growing farms on the outskirts. For me, 3 days is OLD! I have to wonder if the people buying pre-cooked corn have had the good stuff?!
ghainskom July 21, 2017
ha ha, I so understand what you mean! I will buy pre-cooked sometimes when the craving is there but fresh is not available and you wnat cobb and not frozen loose kernels, you know? That's what you get for living in the city. But I totally understand you :)
tamater S. July 21, 2017
Well, I have bought frozen corn, and my two grandmothers who never lived in the country, (both terrible cooks, and couldn't care less) used to serve canned, what they called 'creamed corn' and my parents would shoot us the 'evil eye' lest we make comments like "Eeeeemwwww, what's this?!"
BTW, that corn would go with roast beef cooked to a cinder, and green beans or asparagus cooked to olive green, and drooping off the fork. Oy!
BerryBaby July 20, 2017
Off the cob! Messy, sticks in your teeth, butter dripping off your chin, one of the best summer traditions next to juicy watermelon.
Why all the articles on 'how to eat'?
I enjoy what you're writing but lately they've all been about how to eat ice bars, sandwiches, and now corn on the cob. I don't know I've been eating these things for over 60 years I've never been told I am eating wrong or should eat them differently and I've enjoyed every bite.
HalfPint July 20, 2017
When I was little, I ate my corn Hokkaido-style. It took awhile but made for neater corn cob and less mess. But primarily because at that age, I didn't have my 2 front teeth.
tamater S. July 20, 2017
Interesting. I love eating off the cob, but my husband just hates it. Normally 'decobbing' is a messy job, but I will definitely try this tip out. Thanks, Mayukh!