A Battle Over the Safety of Iowa's Corn Is Unfolding on Facebook

Illustration for article titled A Battle Over the Safety of Iowas Corn Is Unfolding on Facebook

If you’re in Iowa, it may be time to arm up. It’s beginning to look like an all-out war is brewing online over the security of your corn.

Jokey Facebook events like “huffing freon while listening to slipknot” have quickly become a staple of the internet, but a plan threatening Iowa’s iconic crop has set off a digital arms race.

Next Wednesday, September 27th, over 6,000 people plan to sneak “into Iowa at midnight and steal all of their corn” between 5 and 8pm. The event’s goal is to “bring corn to the people of America” and stop Iowa from hoarding the corn “like last year.” It’s a joke, or so the description says, but that hasn’t stopped Iowans from responding. Creators of rival events are preparing to “Defend Iowa From People Stealing Our Corn So Country Girls Can Make Do,” a reference to, in my opinion, the worst meme of all time.

Image: Screenshot/Facebook
Image: Screenshot/Facebook

But if there are now defenders of the corn, then surely the corn stealers will need backup. Thus came yet another Facebook event, “Distract the people of Iowa trying to keep us from stealing their corn.” And then there’s one recruiting distractors to distract the distractors. Other spinoff events ask folks to, respectively, yell “Jimmy Crack Corn,” set up “no trespassing” signs, and make cornbread and whiskey so no one can steal the corn.

Nick Geati, who started the event for the Defenders of the Corn, said some participants in his event have expressed interest in a real-life meetup. And other recent Facebook events seemingly planned in jest have had a surprisingly high turnout: Just last month, a crowd of around 200 ran Naruto-style across Minneapolis’ Stone Arch Bridge after pledging to do so on Facebook. The organizers have already planned another Naruto run for next year.

Geati said he made his event as a joke (obviously), but agreed it was part of a bigger trend. “It’s pretty common for memes to grow increasingly self-referential, and I think ours is part of that step for this meme.”


And, ultimately, the events are all just flash mobs under a different name (unless no one actually shows up).

I’ve reached out to many of the organizers for comment and will update when I hear back. But Iowans—keep your eyes open next Wednesday.


Said Geati: “As an Iowan, I feel responsible for the wellbeing of our corn and our country girls.”

Former Gizmodo physics writer and founder of Birdmodo, now a science communicator specializing in quantum computing and birds

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Iowan here who happens to live rural, surrounded by corn and soybeans.....

We are ready.

Also, if you happen to be coming via Colorado, i’ve got a little shopping list.