The History and Proper Use of The Corn Cob


Everone loves corn on the cob, and corn cobs have existed ever since. They was white corn, Injin corn, yeller corn, sweet corn, butter corn an such, them all had a cob. Now folks lernt to save them cobs since before the beginnin’ ’cause they had another use. Iffin yer still wunderin what I’m talkin’ about yet, yer a plum idjit. You’d let them cobs dry out then put them in the outhouse, fer when you need ‘um.

A thousand years before the Sears and Roebuck catalog, the corn cob was the preferred method. There was dry leaves, and dry grass, and tree bark and not much else. The Real Human Beings, as the Sioux Native Americans called themselves, used a deer skin, and rinsed it after each use. Kind of like the handkerchief you blow a booger into, but don’t wash it, then use it again. Admittedly, I live in Texas, and they do that here, but I digress.

You’ll notice that most animals don’t eat corn on the cob, ceptin deer, what eat it raw, an thay dun’t save the cobs. Animals know they perfec diet and don’t need no corn cob or any kinda clean up, ceptin yer dog lickin’ his butt, or skidding across the living room carpet ’cause you fed him cold pizza. Now, we all know about drive-through Mexican food. Nuff said, okay? Kinda the opposite of a perfec diet.

The proper use of the corn cob: Well, I’m gonna just allow y’all to take a moment and imagine, so’s I don’t got’s to get graphic. Pause a moment . . . let’s move on. Just short of being a wood rasp an more like coarse sandpaper, the corn cob fell way to the Sears and Roebuck catalog around 1909, quite the opposite of the chafing cob, the pages of the annual catalog were more like wax paper, a quite in-effective cleaning device. The first one hundred and fifty years of this country’s heritage is wrapped up in corn cobs, at least, out west.

Them Europeens an them folks in New York city, an the east coast was usin’ linin an such, an wimmins always knowed stuff the men never knowed. An still, everone stunk to high heaven, not just from the improper use of the corn cob, but from sweat, bad breath infrequent bathin’ and the vapors. So, attendin’ the Sunday church social in August could be a near unbearable adventure. Many small paper manufacturers tried to offer a paper product as the new alternative, placing rolls in hotels across America, and slowly, we saw the light. No one person or manufacturer can lay claim to the modern comfort we enjoy, but many scrambled to find relief from the wood rasp like effect of the corn cob.

I have personal experience in this area, havin’ visited the relatives on the farm in North Dakota in 1954. Running water was someone runnin’ with a bucket o’ water, an the Friday night bath was an ordeal for a family with six kids and a wood fired stove for hot water and the pump is outside by the horse trough. This is a true story. I got nekkid with six o’ my cousins an we splashed an giggled in a cast iron claw-foot  bathtub in the winter of 54. I remember Eisenhower and the Republican convention in black and white, with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. I was six years old. It was cold that night and the only relief was ten yards from the back door to the outhouse, where the little stack of corn cobs awaited my eventual arrival.

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