ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — Across the Fort Wayne area, residents can find numerous food stands selling ears of corn from Aunt Gena’s Gourmet Sweet Corn in Hicksville, Ohio.

While people can often find heaps of corn and some customers shopping at each stand, the stands lack a common feature that makes Aunt Gena’s unique: employees.

Since Aunt Gena’s started over 10 years ago, each stand has utilized the honor system, meaning customers are expected pay for what they take without any oversight from the company.

Although Steve and Gena Nye, owners of Aunt Gena’s, said most of their customers are “fabulous” and “honest,” the Nyes have had to reevaluate their businesses practices due to some “bad ears of corn.”

On Aug. 10, the company posted a message on Facebook saying the owners have witnessed instances of theft and received reports of theft at their stands from customers.

The Nyes told WANE 15 Friday that some customers were seen taking crates full of corn without paying.

“We want to keep the price down, but with those kind of losses, we can’t,” Steve said.

As a result, Aunt Gena’s announced on Facebook it will be implementing “surveillance measures, including cameras, to protect our hard work and uphold the integrity of the honor system.”

The Nyes said the only option they have would be to hire employees to monitor each stand, but that decision would raise the prices of the corn and dissolve the honor system, which is something they do not want to do.

“It’s such a nice system,” Steve said. “It’s a throwback. It’s an ‘old-soul’ thing of the way things used to be.”

Despite the recent issues, the Nyes said the positive responses and actions from most of their customers have been invaluable.

“They’re not just our customers,” Gena said. “They’ve become family to us.”

The Nyes said customers have been doing their best to police the stands and minimize thefts since the company made the Aug. 10 Facebook post.

“We want to say thank you to all the folks who have been so supportive,” Steve said.

For those interested in trying Aunt Gena’s ears of corn, the company operates four stands in the Fort Wayne area:

  • State Road 37 near Central Ministries
  • Tonkel Road near Robinson Chapel United Methodist Church
  • The Marathon gas station at the corner of Lima and Ludwig roads
  • The Lassus Handy Dandy gas station near the intersection of Illinois and Scott roads

Aunt Gena’s also operates a stand in Auburn.

The Nyes told WANE 15 the best way to eat the corn is either raw or to add to boiling water for one to three minutes.