A Taste of Lobster History
As the 4th of July fast approaches us, many people have their gatherings all planned out for the celebration of Independence Day. For many, this may include spending quality time outside with friends and family! Many of these parties will include BBQ’s, Cook – Outs, and of course maybe even a Lobster Bake!
In this blog, we will get the chance to learn more about lobster history and how it made its transition from prisoner food to a loved delicacy.
Today, often when lobster is thought of, Maine Lobster comes to mind. But did you know that lobsters were being consumed in Europe before anyone sailed across the Atlantic to the Americas? Well, it’s true. Evidence has been found that yes, in fact, lobsters were being consumed in Europe before America was even found! When the British settlers first sailed to New England, there were so many lobsters off the coast that they didn’t even need to dive for them or catch them. After storms, they would simply wash up onto the shore. Literally hundreds of lobsters would wash onto the shore in piles. The settlers picked up quickly that these animals would spoil fast if they weren’t cooked and consumed fast enough. As time proceeds during this time, lobster was identified as a source of quick protein.
Lobsters were so plentiful at this time that Native Americans would use them to fertilize their crops and bait their fishing hooks. Native Americans would eat them as well, it’s from Native Americans where the classic New England clambake came from. To prepare the lobsters to eat, Native Americans would cover them in seaweed and bake them over hot rocks!
Before the late 1700’s, lobsters were gathered by hand along the shoreline. In the late 1700’s a boat known as a ‘smack’, which had tanks with holes in them that allowed seawater to circulate inside of them, were introduced in Maine to transport live lobsters. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that lobster trapping, which was first practiced in Maine, became the most popular way to collect lobsters.
Lobsters were so abundant at this time which made them very inexpensive. People who consumed the most lobster at this point were prisoners, apprentices, slaves and children. In Massachusetts, some servants added to their contracts that they would only be served shellfish twice a week because they were being fed so much lobster!
The first ever lobster pound was established in Vinalhaven, Maine, in 1876. To this day, the town still has a thriving fishing industry.
It was in the 1880’s that lobsters finally began to shuck away their bad reputation. They were beginning to be served in diners particularly in Boston and New York and from here, prices rose. By the time World War II began, lobster was considered to be a delicacy. The wartime economy allowed wealthy consumers to enjoy lobster as unprecedented rates. Lobster was also a ‘soldiers staple’ because the lobster meat was easy to can, consume and a great source of protein.
Today, lobsters are considered a delicacy. It has been joked about that if you imagine a lobster talking, it probably has a British accent. Draw a lobster, and it’s probably wearing a top hat, a monocle, and an opera cape. Through all the history that we’ve had with lobsters, if we know anything, we know that it is delicious. Here at Maine Lobster Now, we can ensure you the best lobster will be delivered straight to you!