The Country Gentleman 81(42): 1829 (October 14, 1916)

Money in Sugar Corn
Mark L. Williams

INVESTIGATIONS in the laboratory have demonstrated that during the first twenty-four hours after sugar corn is picked it loses about a quarter of its sweetness, and that in thirty hours the loss amounts to a third. Most sugar corn, when bought from the grocer, huckster or market, is from one day to three days old, and often is no sweeter than ordinary field corn.

The writer recently ran across an enterprising young market gardener who was doing his best to show that fresh-picked corn is sweet corn, and was making a very good profit by proving it. This farmer has a small market garden in Baltimore County, Maryland, on a good road about two miles from the city. Near the gateway he has an attractive sign: "Sugar Corn Picked While You Wait—30 cents a dozen."

"That ad has brought me lots of business," he said. "That cornfield over there, just a little less than an acre, has netted me $365. People going by in their machines see the sign and stop, and lots of them come back regularly. One lady started coming out in her car from Baltimore two or three times a week, and she brought a friend or two along, and they began coming by themselves and telling their friends, and now there's a lot of 'em come out here as regular as they used to go to market. They sort of like to look the stuff over and have it picked specially for them.

"I tell all my customers that the way to enjoy corn is to eat it the day it's picked, and they follow my advice, and tell me it's the best they ever tasted. Well, it's no better than any other sweet corn that's properly grown, but, cooked and eaten right away, it certainly does taste better. I make sugar corn my drawing card, and it advertises the farm and helps to sell the other crops—tomatoes, beans, eggplants, and so on.

"I make it a point to tell my customers which vegetables will keep just as well for a day or two, and which ought to be eaten right away. Some folks had never tasted fresh young cabbage, cooked the day it's picked, and, say, I reckon I could charge some of my customers, who have found out how good it tastes, twice as much as I do and they'd come back for more."

The farmer said he also ran two delivery wagons over a definite route in the city each day. One of the wagons had come back to the farm before I left. It was a covered huckster wagon, and a sign on each side of it read: "This sugar corn was picked today—30 cents a dozen ears."

"I have no trouble selling it at that price, even when corn gets pretty cheap in the market," the farmer answered my question. "I only wish I had a few acres more."


CybeRose note: I enjoy these old articles that tell us something about the declining value of the dollar. This past summer I was paying $1.00 for three ears of sweet corn in the supermarkets. That's $4.00 per dozen for corn that was not strictly fresh.

$365 at .30/dozen figures out to 1216 dozen plus 8, or 14,600 ears. At 2011 prices, that's $4866.67. Not bad for less than an acre of land.