- Episode 14 Sweet corn
Episode 14 Sweet corn
Do you like it sweet?
When Columbus reached America in 1492, he brought corn back with him to Europe. Corn was then brought to Japan by the Portuguese in 1579.
Up until the Meiji Period, the waxy type (waxy corn) called sticky corn was the main type cultivated. In the Meiji period (1868-1912) however, sweet corn started to be imported, and this type became more popular.
The main shortcoming of sweet corn was the rapid drop in sugar content after harvesting. If you wanted delicious corn, it was said you should have the water boiling on the stove before you even went out into the field to pick it. In 1971, Sakata Seed Corporation was the first company to respond to this issue with the "Honey Bantam", a ground-breaking variety known as a "super sweet" one. Compared to the traditional corn varieties, the sugar content dropped much more slowly, and it retained its sweetness even after the consumer had purchased it from the grocery store.
However, "Honey Bantam" also had its problems. The pericarp was hard and it was retained in the mouth. Corn with a soft pericarp and a high sugar content was needed. The variety that was able to fulfill these requirements was "Peter Corn", a bi-color variety which manifests a 3:1 ratio of yellow to white grains. It boasts superior flavor, an appealing name, and is readily recognizable.
"Peter Corn" rapidly gained popularity, and a mere 3 years after its launch, it occupied 90% of the Japanese corn market (with the exception of Hokkaido and the northeast of Honshu Island). There is one more secret behind the variety which is the process called Sakurasuto carried out on the seeds. "Peter Corn" sold as a Sakurasuto high tech seed, is resistant to soil borne diseases in the germination period, which has been highly praised by producers. This trail-blazing history in bi-color sweet corn still continues today with the current "Yume no Corn" variety.
As they say, history repeats itself. Yellow sweet corn has once again become the most popular type of corn. "Miwaku no Corn Gold Rush" went on the market in 2004 with a large marketing campaign in metropolitan areas, starting with Tokyo. In order to spread the word about this delicious new variety, huge efforts were made to expand production. The variety quickly began to be grown in Miyazaki Prefecture and other large production areas, and that is how it became the popular vegetable that it is today.
Sweet corn, which is synonymous with the words "sweet" and "delicious", is sold under the name of its variety, just like melons and tomatoes. You have probably seen these names in the supermarket yourself. These varieties were created by none other than Sakata Seed Corporation!