From rags to riches: How the Lobster became Gourmet

Today, when we look into a lobster’s beady little black eyes, we see a delicious delicacy looking back at us — after getting past all that interesting bone structure, most likely. However, we didn’t always look at lobster as a gourmet piece of meat. 

Before the late 19th century, lobster was reserved for the bellies of criminals, the poor, and slaves, as these crustaceans would wash up on New England beaches by the heaps. So, what happened to the lobster’s previously rubbish reputation as the “cockroach of the sea”? 

In short, it was all about transportation. 

The Grand Entrance of Canned Food  

People got the hang of successfully preserving food by canning it in the early 1800s, but selling canned goods at a reasonable price didn’t take off until a few decades later. Canned lobster also started with some hiccups since it has a nasty habit of developing heat-resistant spores that allow bacteria to flourish.

Luckily, researchers found a way to kill the stubborn spores by simply turning up the heat longer during the canning process, which became the standard for all canned goods thereafter. So, we kind of have lobster to thank for our ability to preserve just about anything these days! 

Que the Chu Chu 

Along with cans came fresh train tracks across America in the mid-1800s, leading to a new and fabulous chapter of what people could eat no matter where they were. As colonists started to move farther into the continent, you can bet your bottom dollar they took plenty of canned grub with them. 

The novelty of having lobster hundreds of miles away from the coast certainly surged amongst inlanders, most who had no idea it was considered a trash insect at the time. When word got around that people were actually choosing to eat the crustacean— for fancy dinners on the train no less!— fishermen quickly capitalized on the notion that lobster is significantly tastier when it’s fresh.  

Fresh Lobster For All! 

By World War II, lobster had totally reinvented itself, or, New Englanders did anyway. Today, you won’t find the juicy shellfish washed up in troves over two feet high, waiting to be plucked by passersby needing bait for bass as they did a couple hundred years ago. 

No, they’re mindfully fished off the coast of the Atlantic now, and brought to shore in the perfect conditions they require, including plenty of oxygen, cold water, and restrictions to keep them from eating each other— as lobsters do. 

At Freshies, we supply lobster from Massachusetts to Utah within 24 hours of it being caught fresh from the sea. No need to crack open a tin can to enjoy this rags-to-riches crustacean anymore, thank goodness.