Butter Your Corn the ‘War Games’ Way

Photo: Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock
Photo: Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock

I have a yearly tradition that involves yelling about raw corn on the internet. Raw corn is good and I think more people should eat it, so every one in a while I start shouting and resharing this little blog I wrote a few years ago. This inevitably leads to a lot of corn discourse, and this year that included someone sending me this clip from War Games (1983), a fine film I saw once as a child on VHS.

The funny (and pertinent) part is when the dad yells “This corn is raw!,” but I was too distracted by the ingenious way he applies butter to his corn. He takes a piece of soft white bread (a common bread at my childhood supper table), slathers it with butter (it actually is probably margarine), then wraps it around an ear of corn and twirls the corn to coat it completely.

Screenshot: United Artists

Now, I have been eating corn in many forms for a few decades now. I have never seen this particular butter methodology, and I am delighted by it. But my managing editor Joel tells me it is possibly quite common in the midwest; at least, his dad and maternal grandmother have always buttered corn this way. I must say I approve. Not only is the corn completely buttered, but your hand is kept clean and you have a piece of soft buttered bread to mop your plate with. It’s a perfect little system.

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Of course, to do this your butter must be soft, which means you either have to keep it out at room temperature or use some sort of spread (which you can make yourself). If you only have cold butter, however, you should hold the stick vertically and rub it on the rows of golden kernels like a glue stick, or (if you’re using communal butter) cut a chunk of butter off the stick, stab your fork into it and rub it all over the corn. It’s not as elegant as the bread swirl, but it gets the job done.

Oh, and if you do plan to eat some raw corn — and you should — none of this applies. Simply remove the kernels from the cob, brown some butter in a pan, and pour that hot browned butter on the cold, crisp kernels. Top with salt if your butter is unsalted, and devour.

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