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The right way to eat corn on the cob – around or across?

'The great corn debate' divides a family each summer.

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Summer in North America is the season for eating corn on the cob and with that rages the annual debate within my family: Is it better to eat it around or across? When I was a boy, it was a split decision in my immediate family: Mom and my brother ate it across, Dad and I ate it around.

Since then, the family has expanded and we wait to see how each new arrival will eat corn on the cob and tip the balance one way or the other.

I married a woman who eats it across, adding one to the "enemy camp." My nephews invented their own hybrid way of eating – they nibble around on the edges and then eat it across.

Whose side are they on anyway?

Now my young daughter is just starting to eat corn on the cob. So far she seems to take random bites, which I suppose is a third method. My wife and I are trying not to influence her, to see which way she naturally chooses – but that takes all our powers of restraint.

I have already admitted my bias for eating corn on the cob around. It just seems to make so much sense. I have yet to hear a good argument for eating corn across, but I try to keep an open mind.

My reasoning is this – 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.

Eating across seems to me to be as antiquated as the typewriter, serving no useful purpose.

My brother argues that Mom grew up on a farm where the family raised corn. She eats it across, and who is better qualified to know how to eat corn?

I counter that corn is not Mom's favorite food. On the other hand, I have met few people who enjoy corn more than Dad, a city boy. He could eat multiple ears every day all year, if it was available, without batting an eye.

My farmer uncle was amazed at Dad's corn-eating ability. "He's like a rabbit," Uncle said. "He gets an ear of corn in front of him, wiggles his nose, and zoop! It's gone!" So I modeled my style after Dad's. If he loves corn that much and eats it around, it must be correct.

I'll concede that I don't quite have Dad's zeal for corn. He has been known in his exuberance to apply enough butter, salt, and pepper to each ear that it makes him sneeze.

As an interesting aside: Have you ever counted the rows of kernels on any given ear of corn? If you do, you will find that the total is almost always an even number.


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