This may fall under the category of obvious, but I have eaten so many ears of corn at cook-outs the past few years where the butter was served on the side in pats, that I thought I’d give out a couple of tips:
1) If you want to serve the butter on the side, place an entire stick of butter on a small plate and tell people to set their corn on top of the butter and rotate it until they have the coverage they desire. Serve the corn with those little forks that get stuck in each end, which will help in the process. No rolling once a cob has been gnawed, to prevent illness.
2) Warm a large, deep casserole and toss in whatever quantity of salted butter (or unsalted butter plus a little salt) seems about right. I use one stick for 8 – 10 ears. When your corn is finished cooking, place in the casserole in a single layer with the butter and cover well with two layers of plastic wrap. You want the top of the wrapped container to resemble a drum. Shake the corn back and forth every few minutes to distribute the butter, which will melt from the heat of the receptacle and the corn, and serve within 20 – 30 minutes.