MHH Column October: Tipton Corn

Broad-Ripple-Farmers-Market-sweet-corn-vendor-Indianapolis-Indiana       No one could accuse my father of being an impulse shopper. If he was going to buy anything, you can bet that he had conducted the research, read the product review and still thought it over twice before actually plunking down cold, hard cash on anything. The actual act may look like it was out of the blue, but trust me; it was the culmination of months of methodical preparation.

Which is why we were all a little shocked one day when the man came home from work and dropped five ears of corn on the kitchen counter. Not six, not a dozen, but…five. (The logic of this number perplexes me to this day. There were only three of us.) He informed my mother that he saw a little stand along the highway or something and in an unprecedented act of spontaneity; he decided to buy some.

“Well, OK then,” my mother replied with her eyebrows raised. “We’ll have it tonight.”

Now I knew that dad bringing home a special treat was as rare as Haley’s Comet and that I needed to make a big deal out of this if I ever hoped he would make it a habit. An hour later, we gathered around the table to eat. I bit into the corn and said, “mmmm, this is good.”

“It is good,” my mom agreed.

“It is REALLY good,” my father added.

Actually, the corn was exceptional, a fact that my father pointed out for the remainder of the meal. At first I thought he was fishing for compliments, but then I realized he was genuinely impressed that he’d brought home such a superior product.

“Wow, they grow good corn in Tipton, Indiana. Yes sir, Tipton corn…I got this in Tipton. We need to tell people about this.” He just wouldn’t stop. It became a family joke how he told everyone who would stand still long enough about the amazing corn he’d found in Tipton and from that time on, not a harvest went by that he didn’t bring home a few ears of “Tipton Corn” for us to enjoy.

Late last summer, I was making a personal appearance for a bookseller friend of mine at a local farmer’s market when I noticed a huge throng of people lined up to get their sweet corn from one specific vendor.

“That must be some pretty special corn,” I commented thinking of my father and his passion for corn.

“Oh it is, people get here early to get in line for it,” she said. “I think they are from Tipton or somewhere.”

No way. I thought. It can’t be. I turned, looked up at the banner and felt my heart stop. It read: My Dad’s Sweet Corn, Tipton, Indiana.

Knowing a sign from above when I see one, I made my way over to the stand just as they were selling out of their stock. I told them the whole tale and asked if they had even a few ears left for me to take back to my family. It didn’t even matter if they were some smallish ears, it simply had to be Tipton Corn. Moved, the man rifled through the truck, found a dozen ears and presented them to me. He wouldn’t even take the money I offered him. “Just consider them a gift from Dad,” he said.




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