You find yourself face to face with a cob of corn (a corn cob? a corn on the cob?). If you're lucky, it's salted. If you're truly blessed, it's buttered and salted. Hot sauce? Herbs? Cheese? So many choices.
But that's not even the start of it. What's your natural instinct when it comes to the eating part: Do you move your teeth down the line, left to right (or right to left?!), turning the corn only once you've reached the end? Or, do you rotate the cob like a drill bit, biting around its circumference until you've gnawed it clean? Do you throw methodology into the flames and attack the corn at random? Or do you use a tweezer to dislodge each kernel, one by one? (Do you think time grows on trees?!)
The natural, proper, moral way to eat corn is no new question. Back in '95, Kathleen Kelleher of the LA Times asked readers to "think of the way you eat corn on the cob as a Rorschach test, a kind of toothy imprint of the psyche, a revealer of truth." But does your personal practice reveal huge psychological truths, or is it a product of your conditioning? "I think it is kind of like the way you put the toilet paper in the holder—each is passionate about their way of doing things," wrote user barbarhow on the Windsor Peak Press forum board. (Yes, my "research" took me to this corner of the internet.)
(If this were a Buzzfeed article, we'd call it, "Tell us how you eat corn and we'll tell you your favorite Rugrats character.")
From top to bottom...
If you eat your corn from end to end, then rotate it and repeat, row-by-row, you're probably a neat freak—and you're among the majority of the Food52 staff: 23 of the 39 respondents claimed affiliation with Team Typewriter.
John M. de Castro, a psychology professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta, hypothesized that that typewriter-style eaters "live orderly, methodical lives and may be more prone to obsessive-compulsive disorders" (I'm pretty sure he was at least half-joking).
Some people even audibly "Ding!" when they reach the end of each row. Please do not do this in the company of non-family members or small pets.
If you take every opportunity to express yourself, from graphic tees to tattoos, why can't your corn be a canvas, too? Your teeth are your artist's tools: Use them to nibble elaborate designs (we made a wave in the cob above, but you can do better)—and then leave all of the remaining kernels forever untouched.
(We are kidding.)
aka Rotary Method
You're interested in the columnar nature of the corn cob, not its length. Psychologists surmise (again, half in jest) that the rotary method is "favored by creative, artistic, right-brainer folks." While the typewriter-style makes your progress enormously apparent, the rolling pin-style may obscure your accomplishments.
Others have very thought-out reasons for choosing the rotary-method: "My reasoning is this," says Eric Nager of The Christian Science Monitor: "freshly cooked corn is not uniformly hot. It cools more quickly on the edges. By eating around on the edges first, you create natural hand holds and then can proceed to eat around to the center, which cools last."
aka "Hunt and Peck"
You fall into this category if you attack the corn with no particular direction. Have you been blindfolded?! When one commenter on Chowhound wrote to see if anyone out there agreed with her husband, who "finds it very odd that [she] eat[s] [her] corn on the cob in random bites," the first person to respond said, "Nothing weird with that! Except you're obviously psycho. ;-)."
According to The Emily Post Institute, both major parties—the typewriters and the rolling pins—are in the wrong ("Take just a bite or two at a time rather than chomping back and forth along the rows like an old-fashioned type-writer or spinning it around like a roller"), but don't even think about using a knife to slice off the kernels in four fell swoops: "Only for kids with no teeth!" Emily Post specifies.
"If you’ve lost all your front teeth and can’t get the corn off the cob with your gums, ask an adult to cut the corn off the cob so you can still enjoy it."
Eat your corn however you like, I say! Demolish half of it with the rotary method, then typewriter the rest. Or take random nibbles—just don't be alarmed when dining companions ask if you're from Mars.
Time to chime in: How do you eat your corn? Tell us in the comments below!