What Your Corn-Eating Habits Say About Your Personality

August 10, 2017

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.)

To which corn camp do you belong—and do you think it says something about your essential being, or is a habit you could readily break?

(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.")

Photo by Julia Gartland

From top to bottom...

Old-Fashioned Typewriter:

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.

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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).

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“The real question in this article is how, exactly, do you get salt to stick to corn that has not been slathered with butter? Oh and I am team typewriter all the way. I like mine with butter, salt and pepper”
— Mary

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.

Free-Spirited Artistry:

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.)

Rolling Pin:

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."

Rabid Squirrel:

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. ;-)."

The Clean Slicers:

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.

Children of the...

Time to chime in: How do you eat your corn? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jennifer
  • MomCat
  • Michelle Moulton
    Michelle Moulton
  • bill.griffin.357
  • Peggy Jentoft
    Peggy Jentoft
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Jennifer July 14, 2023
I think the typewriter eaters grew up watching Bugs Bunny. I doubt if we are all unusually neat.
MomCat August 25, 2017
Ya' know... I don't really care about direction. EXCEPT for one thing. Its all about the butter & salt! Most eating directions result in dripping the butter. Major Bad in my book. IF you butter only one bite-sized width, horizontal row at a time and immediately chomp it (typewriters, you go), you get the maximum butter/salt/corn consumption. And isn't that what corn on the cob is all about? :-) So I guess maximizing flavor could kinda, sorta go with the neatness (I say organized) trend of the typewriters. I still say it's all about the flavor, not the direction. -Momcat in Oregon [and yes, I had a cat who luuuvved corn on the cob!)
Michelle M. August 15, 2017
It's gotta be typewriter! That way, you can focus on the row of kernels that was sitting in the puddle of butter on your plate.
bill.griffin.357 August 13, 2017
Salt? Eww!
Peggy J. August 13, 2017
I combine rotary and linear corn munching but always begin with the pointy end. My family always applied the butter and corn with what they called lumberjack method, buttering and salting a slice of bread and using the bread as an applicator.
Sarah J. August 13, 2017
I always finish on the pointy end!
Bonnie J. August 13, 2017
I noticed all your cobs were laying with the big end on the left side. I've always had to hold the big end on the right and start eating from left to right, then up a row and go right to left, left to right and on and on untiI I eat every kernel.
Chris August 13, 2017
It may seem random but it's not. I'm just looking for the best spot. Then I typewriter the rest with an occasional rolling pin.
Mary August 13, 2017
The real question in this article is how, exactly, do you get salt to stick to corn that has not been slathered with butter? Oh and I am team typewriter all the way. I like mine with butter, salt and pepper
Sarah J. August 13, 2017
Call me cuckoo but... spray it with salted water? Or just make sure that, if you're boiling the corn, that cooking water is very, very salty.
Paul M. August 13, 2017
No provision for effects of parental modeling? I do the typewriter because dad did it.
Lynn S. August 10, 2017
I like my corn with no butter, salt or pepper. Just warm it up and I'll rotate away!
Ivy H. August 11, 2017
I'm with you! It doesn't need anything!
claire M. August 10, 2017
Typewriter. Totally got me on the personality test too!
Virginia P. August 10, 2017
We were at a dinner once-everyone but us removed the corn from the cob with a knife-we felt like heathens! Could this be a regional thing? Most of the others were southerners-we are New Yorkers!
Paul M. August 13, 2017
Southerners and Northerners do have different codes, just as they have different cornbread. I'm used to chowing down on fried chicken "bird in hand" style but in North Carolina, my hosts used knife and fork. I also found out that asparagus is a finger food that bar-b-que means a tub of pulled pork on hush puppies. We Philadelphians eat corn like New Yorkers but Vive les differences.
Mary August 13, 2017
You must have gone to one of the few homes in North Carolina where fried chicken is eaten with a knife and fork, but it is nice that you learned that bar-b-que is a noun and not a verb.
smartinup August 10, 2017
My step dad always knows how many rows when he's done. Always an even number!
Siana August 10, 2017
what does this mean for Michael Buble?
a R. August 10, 2017
I'm asking for a friend but what about the people who move typewriter-style along the row, use their bottom teeth to cleanly snap the kernels out of their settings with nothing left behind, creating an absolutely clean cob? Has science overlooked this group of fringe geniuses? Or maybe not a group, just the one weirdo who does it who is, you know, my friend or whatever.
Nikkitha B. August 10, 2017
Hm, am I that friend? Because I defend this method 100%.
Sheila N. August 10, 2017
Me too, I have a friend or two who use this method... Have they been forgotten ?
Leah C. August 13, 2017
Count me in this group! I was a bit offended that the top corn (typewriter) has all these leftover corn bits remaining.
Charlotte August 13, 2017
Hahaha! My husband sounds just like your "friend". Me? I'm more like the "rabid squirrel", and it drives him nuts. :)
Erin August 14, 2017
I do this too! Er- I too have a friend that does this....
Magdalena R. August 14, 2017
Yes, so much agreed !
Cindy August 17, 2017
That's me! :)
BerryBaby August 10, 2017
What's amazing is when removing corn from the cob how much corn there is. I would never serve myself that much but eating off the cob you don't give it any thought. I make corn salads more often than straight eating off the cob. One salad with black beans is easily 3-4 side salads.