What Oysters Can Tell Us about American History

Recorded history of the New England settlements captured a passion for oysters. Oysters were so sought and plentiful in colonial times that they were shipped back to Europe from America. During the early 1800s, oysters were eaten by wealthier people except in local harvesting areas. When production surged in the mid to late 1800s, all economic levels enjoyed oysters because they cost less than poultry and other meats. Love of oysters even inspired early Americans to transform them into culinary desserts. Mark Twain mentioned his favorite ice cream flavor was oyster ice cream in his book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. While some more popular oysters were transplanted from place to place in the 19th Century, oysters were able to keep pace with the demand. Today, the fate of the edible oyster relies on science, mankind and the environment. So as you join the American Oyster Celebration, don’t forget oysters are steeped in history and share a culinary moment with our colonial ancestors.

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