Sweet Corn Availability
May 08, 2017
I've got a bad feeling about this week's query – like the clementine debacle:
"This afternoon we had a BBQ with friends and of course had corn on the cob. The conversation between us evolved to sweet corn and how there is only the ‘super sweet’ bi-color corn available. The large kernel yellow corn is no longer available in our area, Wisconsin/Michigan. Do you know the reason for this change from yellow to the bi-color? Cost, starch content, ethanol? Personally all of us like the large kernel yellow corn.” That's from Bob & Judy Mijolevic, Tomahawk, WI.
As you might suspect I don't do much regular grocery shopping and then only in robot mode with my phone in hand following Jan's precise instructions. So in answering this question, I learned a bunch about current sweet corn production.
Super sweet varieties dominate modern sweet corn production due to consumer preference and the fact that higher sugar content allows a longer shelf life for fresh picked corn. As for the bi-color issue, Jan's estimate is 90 percent of the sweet corn in our Kroger was bi-color last year, so it's not just a Wisconsin thing.
I could not find any significant nutritional differences. I can only guess, but if I were a grocery retailer deciding how much white and yellow sweetcorn to buy, just loading up on bi-color would seem a pretty effective hedge against consumer whims.
Also I can't really taste much difference between the three types. But, in the process of researching sweet corn production, I found this surprising – to me anyway – graph.
Minnesota is the #1 sweet corn producing state, followed by Washington and Wisconsin. My surprise is because all my life nearby Hoopeston, Illinois was famed as the home of the National Sweet Corn Festival.
But the canning plant there closed in 1993, and that seems to be the primary determinant of where sweet corn production is located.