Corn Nuts is a popular snack that’s been around a long time. It’s a hybrid type of Peruvian corn that grows large kernels. You know what they are. Everybody does.
They were introduced to the general population as a new snack in 1964 via a huge promotional campaign.
I was program director at KSTT in the Quad Cities at the time, and someone from an ad agency representing Corn Nuts approached us about doing a promotion. It was tradition to honor such requests, based on how much money the client was spending on paid advertising. It’s called “added value.” Such arm-twisting still exists today.
The morning personality on KSTT was Lou Gutenberger, a funny guy known to pull some crazy stunts. So, we decided to run the promotion on his show. We planted a raw Corn Nut kernel, which the agency provided, in a pot on the ledge just outside a second story office. The contest was simple, listeners would send in a post card and guess how tall the Corn Nut would get by the Fourth of July.
The morning of July Fourth arrived and Lou and I went to officially measure the plant to decide the winner, and found it had disappeared from the window ledge. The only thing we could figure out was someone had lassoed it from below and pulled it down. There was potting soil spilled on the ground, but no sign of the pot and plant.
Now what do we do? After some head scratching Lou went on the air and simply explained what had happened. But, how to pick a winner? Again we did the only thing we could do. We thought up a solution. We told the listeners that we had checked the plant periodically and knew that it had exceeded six feet in height. Therefore, the only fair way to determine the winner of the contest was to take all the postcard entries that guessed over six feet and draw a winner at random.
I forget what the prize was, but I’ll bet it was something like a year’s supply of Corn Nuts. But, somewhere out there was a cowboy, sitting proudly with his boots up on the hitching post waiting for the first ear to appear on his stolen Corn Nut plant.