From the late 15th century until the end of the 18th century during the American colonial era, lobster was viewed as “trash food” and considered an option solely for servants, prisoners, and poor families who couldn’t afford anything else. Indigenous tribes living near the coast used lobster as fertilizer or fish bait instead of consuming it.
Kentucky politician of the 19th century, John Rowan, once said, “Lobster shells in a house are considered signs of poverty and degradation.” It was common for people to bury lobster shells in their backyard to avoid their neighbors seeing them.
In the early 19th century, people paid 53 cents per pound for baked beans in Boston and only 11 cents per pound for lobster. It was also used as cat food.
By the late 19th century, as a result of expanding railroads across the country, railroad companies decided to serve lobster because it was cheap, abundant, and largely unknown to passengers who found it delicious. Demand was increasing. The canned lobster meat was also being sold throughout the nation. The lobster was gaining popularity among Americans.
In the 1920s, there were fewer lobsters, but demand was on the rise. By the 1950s, lobster had consolidated its status as a delicacy and delighted the palates of movie stars, celebrities, and millionaires. No one ever worried about hiding the shells again.
By: Jose Eliseo Guzman