Posted by: Buzz | January 5, 2015

Vegetables With a Flair: Corn ‘n Chives

We needed a simple side dish to go along with some bean burgers, and I recalled these three ideas from an old Stokely-Van Camp ad.


Since these recipes were apparently created to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of Stokely-Van Camp, I am tentatively dating this recipe to 1961, the centenary of the founding of Gilbert Van Camp’s food company. (The brand is best known for their baked beans, pioneered by Gilbert’s son in the 1890s; the whole Van Camp brand was bought out by the Stokely brothers, who owned a tomato cannery, in 1933.)


This corn is supposed to be extravagant, and I love extravagance. So let’s get to it!


(Although, really, how extravagant can a recipe with only four ingredients be?) We take some corn and heat it in the microwave. The microwave wouldn’t have been available in 1961, which just makes this recipe even more fabulous!

A little bit of margarine melted on top. Then I added lemon juice. I wasn’t quite sure how much to put in. I know how much “a dash” of a dry ingredient is (although I’m not sure how close my standard dash is to the nominal value of one eighth of a teaspoon), but I do not have the same intuition for a liquid dash. I ended up adding about a quarter of a teaspoon.


Fresh chives are not in season, so I rehydrated some dried stalk pieces.


The chive bits were liberally sprinkled over the top.


And serving was simple.


I thought it tasted pretty good, but everyone else at the table felt that the lemon juice was annoying. There were no comments on the chives; the combination of dehydrated chives and their small quantity made them almost unnoticeable. However, good quality corn kernels with a little margarine are hard to criticize, and the kids were soon asking for second helping. So “flair” might be a bit of a stretch, but these certainly was very edible corn.


  1. I love how mid-century (and modern ones as well) try to jazz up what’s pretty much a quick dish to round out your meal. I can only imagine what 1961’s version of canned corn would taste like–I remember a lot of canned food in the early 80s tasting like salt with a slight vegetable aftertaste. Crunchiness was NOT an option in ANYTHING. If you didn’t like hot, mushy (yet chewy) corn, you were “stuck” with eating fresh corn on the cob (in the summer), or creamed corn (which was pretty good, especially with crumbled bacon). Thank goodness you had good corn to begin with!

    • Even in the 1980s, canned corn tended to be like mush—nothing like the delicious fresh kernels you could get on the cob. It’s wonderful how much the canned versions have improved over recent decades.

  2. Fresh chives would be an improvement

    • The dried chives had seemed to work all right in some earlier recipes, although the obviously could never compete with fresh ones. (When I was about six, I knew a spot in the wood to pick wild chives; they were delicious.) They may have lost some more of their flavor sitting on the shelf; I’m not sure how long dried chives really keep.

  3. I agree. I think fresh chives would make a big difference. The point of this dish seems to be about color, more than tasting all that different than canned corn with a little butter, and the pop of green against the yellow would be pretty. The 1960s were all about contrasting garnishes and minimal effort (see Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook Book, etc.).

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