While Monday's Super Bowl was the lowest scoring in history, with a blessed absence of controversial calls, a bigger showdown occurred after Budweiser aired a television ad during the game that seemed to imply its products are superior to other brands because it doesn't use corn syrup to make its beer.
Within minutes of the ad's appearance, corn farmers across America were expressing their distaste on social media, including taping videos as they poured cans of Bud down the drain.
The National Corn Growers Association was quick to reach out to Anheiser-Busch, Bud's parent company, suggesting the two St. Louis-based entities sit down for a talk. Several leading nutritionists used the uproar as a teachable moment, explaining that the added sugar is used to feed the yeast during fermentation but doesn't end up in the finished beverage.
"Corn syrup isn't even in the finished product," said Matt Mulch of Burlington, who was working in Colorado Corn's promotional booth at this week's High Plains No Till Conference. "It's not like they sweeten the beer. It's all completely consumed (by the yeast) before they even package it."
"I drink Miller Lite specifically because they use corn," he added.
"Sugar's sugar. One form's not better than another," interjected Dave Cure, a farmer from Stratton, who was also miffed by another Budweiser commercial touting wind energy, which he said has driven up the cost of energy, especially in states like Colorado and Wyoming.
Kim Reddin, the communications director for Colorado Corn, noted the irony of a company that sells alcohol taking a swipe at corn syrup.
"Too much of anything is a bad thing," she said.
The ad aroused so much indignation in farm country that it had a side benefit of boosting social media use by inspiring some farmers to sign up with accounts for the first time, just so they could weigh in on the protest, Reddin said.
Still, as a communications professional, she noted jumping headlong into the fray isn't always the best approach.
In her case, she monitored developments calmly as the fracas unfolded in the news and on social media, but allowed the national corn group to take the lead in responding to and engaging with Anheiser-Busch.
"My concern is that sometimes the public takes the reaction from farmers as just complaining rather than being informing," she said.
Mulch noted the upside in people expressing interest in what they consume and caring about their health, but said the tendency of many food companies to resort to "fear mongering" wasn't constructive.
He questioned the old adage that any publicity is good publicity, expressing concern that millenials in particular have a tendency to scan headlines and don't always dig deep enough to truly educate themselves about an issue.
"It's kind of like with GMOs," he said. "The whole reason for genetic modification in crops is to reduce the use of pesticides."
Like a badly executed reverse play, Budweiser's ad seemed to fall flat, creating a backlash and giving competitors like MillerCoors an opportunity to re-emphasize their support for American farmers, which they did by taking out full page ads in national publications and touting their support on social media. Anheuser-Busch was later forced to issue a statement saying it "fully supports corn growers and will continue to invest in the corn industry."
Reddin felt like it was too early to tell whether the whole situation would end up being positive for the corn industry overall.
It definitely seemed to have at least a short term ripple effect in farm towns like Burlington.
The controversy generated plenty of conversation at the annual "beer and bull" session held in conjunction with the High Plains No Till Conference, where vendors host the reception with a bring-your-own-beer format.
Most if not all of them chose to boycott Budweiser products.
"I wasn't going to bring Bud Light," said Brandon Hays, a loan officer in Farm Credit of Southern Colorado's Burlington office.
As a corn grower himself, he said he was offended by the ad.
"It's not even in the beer, so it was kind of misleading," he said.
While shopping at a local liquor store, he was told by the owner no one else was buying Budweiser either.
Cory Gilbert, who was at another booth promoting farm technology, joked that he had suggested a colleague bring a jug of corn syrup and invite farmers at the reception to "mix their own."