​As a tour guide,  I spend my time looking up restaurants I will never be able to go to unless I can get a wealthy person to sweep me off of my feet like in Pretty Woman. I look up some fancy seafood spots, like fancier than Red Lobster. 

But with lobster.

Ironic since during the 1700’s lobster was the food European settlers would give to prisoners, apprentices, slaves, and children. 
They were a cheap source of protein and the crustaceans used to wash up to the shores of Massachusetts in waves up to two feet tall. The lobsters were as large as six pounds. 

Native Americans used them to bait their fishing hooks and to fertilize the crops. It was the food of the Europeans’ cats, pigs, cows, goats and povershed people. 

At the time of the Victorian Era (1837-1901),  Boston baked beans costed 53 cents per pound and lobster was 11 cents per pound. During the 1850’s and 60’s,  it would appear in the salad section as a bargain dish (half the price of chicken salad). 

A few things increased the popularity of lobster. The industrial uprising of the canning industry brought fisherman to the sea. Too many, in fact, as the three-to-six pound lobster were overfished leaving the one-to-two pound lobster. 

Tourist from New York and Washington D. C. also helped the reputation. They weren’t aware of the lobster’s poor reputation and crave the taste when they returned home in August. 

This and overfishing caused prices to increase. 

The expansion of rail roads westward and the invention of refrigerated train cars expanded the seafood to St. Louis and Chicago in can form and as a live option. 

Around 1880s, chefs discovered its better to cook lobster while it’s alive for taste and appearence. 

The Great Depression decreased the selling of lobster in luxurious settings, around a time when lobsters really needed to repopulate and brought back the canning industry to send to American troops overseas. 

Lobster rose back in reputation around the 1950s to 1970s. American families tended to eat meat at home and left lobster as a option to get at a fancy restaurant. Which is somewhat the same thinking today. 

*Nathyn has never actually had lobster.

Sources: History / Mother Jones / Gizmodo / Pacific Standard

 

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