Taste panel perception and preference of pericarp tenderness in three phenotypes (su, se, and sh2) of sweet corn (Zea mays) harvested at three different maturities were compared to the readings received from a penetrometer. Pericarp tenderness perception by taste panel correlated with penetrometer measurements when phenotypes and maturities were compared. The penetrometer showed significantly lower readings for sweet corn harvested at early maturity than those harvested at late maturity. This was also noted in the panelists' perception of tenderness, with the early and mature harvest samples being preferred over those from the late harvest. The only difference between cultivars within phenotypes was noted in sh2 `Rustler' and `AXC904'. `Rustler' received the greatest overall pentrometer values and lowest panel ratings; conversely, `ACX904' had low penetrometer values and was perceived as tender and very acceptable to panelists. Correlations between penetrometer readings and panel perception of pericarp tenderness indicate that a puncture force, using a 0.118-inch (3.0 mm) probe, of greater that 0.95 g/inch2 (0.147 g·cm-2) indicated a tough pericarp and lower than 0.70 g/inch2 (0.109 g·cm-2) indicated a tender pericarp.