1940s Archive

Food Flashes

Originally Published July 1943

Corn's ripe! And 30,000,000 American mouths moisten with anticipation. Even New Yorkers can have sweet corn this month fresh as today and wearing its night dew. Patch to pot, corn comes to town daily, dawn-picked, to be delivered between 9 and 11 o'clock in the morning to a list of fifty places in New York, Brooklyn, and Newark.

A sweet corn less than five hours from the stalk is the idea of the Haymon Marketing Service, 204 Franklin Street, a fresh produce buying agency for restaurants and stores. It was fourteen years ago that the service manager first suggested dawn-picked corn to his clients. The majority were dubious, believing “sweet corn is just sweet corn to the average New Yorker.” A few grocers, however, carried “picked today” corn, and it paid them handsomely. Field-fresh corn caught on like a flash.

In early morning when the sheets of night mist are rising from the Hudson and the red dabs of dawn are streaking the East, marketman Haymond high- tails it through the countryside to the North. Six o'clock, and his truck turns into the farmyard lane. The bag holders, the pickers have finished with breakfast and are ready to work.

Here they come, a bag man, a picker—two work a row. There is a hush in the field. Workers must work quickly. No time for talk. The truck must be filled and off to the city. Snap go the ears, a hushed rustle, a tearing sound soft as the rip of silk as husks are peeled down so a picker can look. Workers have strict orders. This must be premium corn, the pick of the patch, corn exactly right. Reject the immature kernel. Reject corn overripe. Choose the corpulent ear, well filled, plump in the hand. The silk will be brown; it breaks easily. But the husk will be green an still moist. The kernels must be plump.

Eight o'clock and the corn truck is crossing George Washington Bridge. Hello! Hello! More trucks are waiting. Now the load is divided for delivery in the city. First stops are the stores where corn is delivered before 9 o'clock. Last stops are at restaurants where corn must be on hand just in time to get it out of the shuck and clean of the silk when the first lunchers arrive.

Corn really sweet and worth its butter must be picked and eaten at once. That's no notion; there is scientific reason. Flavor in corn is due to sugar content. While the ears are on the stalk the enzymatic activity constantly converts sugar into starch. At the same time new sugar comes into the ears from the leaves. Pull the ear and the transformation of sugar into starch continues merrily. But now no compensating sugar is supplied. So it is that the longer corn stands after picking, the starchier, the tougher it gets, the more doughy.

Corn hungry? Here are a few of the stores with field-to-table sweet corn, Lou's Market, 45 Catherine Street, Susan Prince, 808 Lexington Avenue, an all the retail stores of the Consumers' Co-operatives. Or eat it steaming hot from the pot as served in these dining rooms: Schrafft's Restaurants; The White Turkey Town Houses, 220 Madison Avenue and 1 University Place; The Skipper Restaurant, 17 East 48th Street, and The Skipper Restaurant II, 160 East 48th Street; Mammy's Pantry, 122 Montague Street, Brooklyn; Abraham & Straus Restaurant, Brooklyn; and Bamberger's in Newark. The Skipper Restaurants, Mammy's Pantry, and Bamberger's also sell the corn to the carry-home trade.

A new wall-boarding material is announced for the cake engineers by Ham-macher-Schlemmer's Connoisseur's Corner, 145 East 57th Street. It's the Swedish-style peppar kakor, or ginger wafer, a new sugar saver for building walls for refrigerator cakes, come the sultry days.

These cookies are styled for the job, being extra thin, extra dry, quick to drink in the cream. Six or eight wafers may be layered for individual serving. Stack them one on the other with a small amount of whipped cream in between. Thin war cream will whip with the ai of any one of several new stiffening agents. Sweeten the cream slightly. Press the wafer sandwich firmly together. Blanket top and sides with more cream, and garnish with chopped nuts an finely cut cherries—if you have cherries —or crumble a few of the unused cookies, and dust the crumbs over the roll. Now place the dessert in the coldest part of the refrigerator to ripen for three to five hours.

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