FANWOOD, NJ -- June 15 is National Lobster Day, a celebration of the tasty crustacean.
The transformation of lobster from being a food that was eaten by the poor to being a delicacy is one of the great rebrandings in history, according to an article in Pacific Standard magazine. In pre-Revolutionary times, it was considered "the cockroach of the ocean," and prisoners even refused to eat it. When the first European settlers reached North America, lobsters were so plentiful that they would reportedly wash ashore in piles up to 2 feet high, according to History.com.
However, once the railroads opened, people who lived away from New England came to love lobster. In fact, according to the Pacific Standard article, passengers who didn’t know lobster was considered "trash food" on the coast, began to ask for it even after they left the train. It began to gain popularity.
World War II played a role in the enhancement of lobster's reputation. Since lobster was considered a delicacy when the war began, it was not rationed (as beef and other foods were), according to Business Insider. Wealthy crustacean cravers began to eat them at unprecedented rates, History.com reports. This further bolstered acceptance and desire for lobster.
Lobster is a great source of protein, has less calories than an equal portion of skinless chicken breast, and contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids and lots of vitamins E, B-12 and B-6. Eateries that serve seafood offer lobster in a variety of ways. It is often boiled or steamed and served as an entree, but it is also popular in a cream-based soup called lobster bisque. In Maine, it is often served as a sandwich using a grilled split top roll.
"The key is not to overwhelm the subtle flavor of lobster with lots of spices or too much mayonaise, I used to travel to Maine each summer as a kid and make it the same way they serve it there," says Paul Watterson, chef at the Fanwood Grille. "A key is also to grille the split top roll in butter, which gives it a nice flavor. I expect with National Lobster Day and summer-like weather in the forecast, it will be a big day for our lobster rolls."