Mexican Street Corn Candle

Corn has its origins in teosinte, a type of wild grass that was first domesticated some 8,700 years ago in Mesoamerica by the indigenous people who lived in what is now Mexico and Central America. Modern corn looked nothing like the plant it originally evolved from. The edible grain of the teosinte had tiny kernels that grew on a bushy plant with many stalks. These kernels were first harvested as far back as 10,000 years ago and were ground with stones to produce a nutritious starch.

The Aztecs whose city states dominated the Valley of Mexico, once had an origin myth about corn. The story goes that in the old days, the people had a hard scrabble existence. Much of their day was spent digging for edible roots and foraging for wild vegetables.

Rumor had it that an abundant food source known as corn lay beyond an impassable mountain range. In their hunger and despair, the called upon the Serpent God, Quetzalcoatl, to aid them in their time of need. “Oh mighty Quetzalcoatl,” they begged, “We are starving. Life is hard.  Please go forth beyond the mountains and bring us corn to feed our children and to fill our bellies.”

The noble Quetzalcoatl agreed. Since the mountain was far too high for even a God to fly over, he transformed himself into an ant and crawled through a dark crack that ran through the mountain range until after many days he finally reached the other side. The fertile valley in the land beyond the mountain was filled with corn but since the cobs were far too large for him to carry through the crack, he seized a single golden kernel and hurried back to the waiting people.

The people planted the kernel and grew corn. Everything was just as they had hoped. The corn banished hunger. Over time as their crops grew in size and yield, they sold the surplus to their neighbors and became fabulously wealthy.

Today corn is one of the world’s most important staples. Each year the world grows over a billion metric tons of this crop. The United States is the world’s leading producer of corn with an annual production of some 388 million metric tons.

Corn has many uses. It’s used to make the corn flour that’s needed to make tamales and tortillas. It’s ground into cornmeal, eaten as kernels, or enjoyed on the cob. As an animal feed it’s used to feed livestock like hogs, chicken, and cattle. It can also be turned into ethanol, a fuel additive, high-fructose corn syrup, and even bio-based plastic.

In Mexico City, elote is a popular snack that’s produced by street vendors. The word “elote” is said to be a derivative of the ancient Nahuatl word “elotitutl,” which literally means “tender cob.” Also known as Mexican street corn, this popular snack is roasted over a grill and is then coated with butter, mayonnaise, sour cream, cotija cheese, lime juice, salt, and chili powder from ground chipotle chilies.

From its humble beginnings as street food, Mexican street corn has become increasingly popular in the United States. In 2018 it was listed as one of the summer’s fastest growing food trends. Today it even appears on many restaurant menus including Rubio’s and Chili’s where it’s offered up as a side dish.

This corn is really tasty! The smoke from the grill mixes well with the sweetness of the kernels, and the savory creaminess of the dairy products. The citrus highlights contrast nicely with the mild heat of the chipotle peppers. Elote is enjoyed as a snack or served as a side dish with meat, poultry, and seafood.

To make my Mexican street corn candle, I started with a plain corn cobette.

Acrylic paint was then used to paint the corn to give it a grilled appearance.

White wax was then added to simulate mayonnaise. Green paint provided the illusion of chopped cilantro. A mesh strainer was then used to dust the corn with chili powder.

Although I could have stopped here, I decided to add a cornbread muffin. The muffin was topped with a pat of butter.

Since no one appears to be producing a corn candle oil fragrance, I used a cornbread aroma for the cobette. Cilantro and lime fragrances were used for the mayonnaise.

The cornbread muffin and the pat of butter were scented to smell like cornbread.

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