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Lobster Trivia

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Long ago, lobsters were so plentiful that Native Americans used them to fertilize their fields and to bait their hooks for fishing. In colonial times, lobsters were considered "poverty food." They were harvested from tidal pools and served to children, to prisoners, and to indentured servants, who exchanged their passage to America for seven years of service to their sponsors. In Massachusetts, some of the servants finally rebelled. They had it put into their contracts that they would not be forced to eat lobster more than three times a week.

Until the early 1800s, lobstering was done by gathering them by hand along the shoreline. Lobstering as a trap fishery came into existence in Maine around 1850. Today Maine is the largest lobster-producing state in the nation. Though the number of lobstermen has increased dramatically, the amount of lobsters caught has remained relatively steady. In 1892, 2600 people in the Maine lobster fishery caught 7,983 metric tons; in 1989, 6300 Maine lobstermen landed 10,600 metric tons of lobster.

Smackmen first appeared in Maine in the 1820s because of increased demand for lobsters from the New York and Boston markets. Smackmen were named after their boats, a well smack. Smacks were small sailing vessels with a tank inside the boat that had holes drilled into it to allow sea water to circulate. The smacks were used to transport live lobsters over long distances.

The first lobster pound appeared on Vinalhaven in 1875 and others quickly followed. Lobster pounds work in the same manner as the smack boats. The lobsters are kept in tanks with water passing freely through them. The first lobster pound was in a deep tidal creek, but today they are more common on docks floating in the harbor. Using the pound, dealers can wait for the price of lobster to increase or allow a newly-molted lobster time to harden its shell.

By the 1930s, the traveling smackmen were being replaced by local, land-based buyers who served as the link between the harvesters and the public.The buyer purchased lobsters from a harvester who in turn bought fuel, bait, and other gear from the buyer. The local buyer then either sold the lobsters to people who came down to the docks or turned them over to a regional dealer who sent the lobsters out of state.

In response to demand for lobster that exceeded the range of the smack boats, lobsters were canned beginning in 1836. The Burnham & Morrill Company was one of the early canneries in existence in Maine. Now primarily in the baked bean business, B&M was canning lobsters and sending them to all parts of the habitable globe, according to an 1880 history of Cumberland County, Maine. Canning the lobsters overcame some of the difficulties associated with shipping lobsters, and by the second half of the 19th century the value of canned lobster had surpassed that of live lobster.

The canneries were so efficient at processing the lobsters that they were soon forced to work with smaller lobsters. In 1860, James P. Baxter recalled that four to five pound lobsters were considered small and the two pound lobsters were being discarded as not worth the effort to pick the meat for canning. Only twenty years later, the canneries were stuffing meat from half-pound lobsters into the tins for processing.

During World War II lobster was considered a delicacy, and consequently was not rationed. Thus lobster meat filled the increasing demand for protein-rich food. People could afford it because of the boom of the war-time economy. Although there was a decline in lobster purchases immediately after the war, lobster consumption rapidly rebounded. In the years between 1950 and 1969, per capita lobster consumption increased from .585 pounds (live weight) to .999 pounds. At the same time the cost of lobster outpaced inflation, increasing profits for lobstermen and thereby encouraging more people to join the industry. GIs were also given an added boost with money from the GI Bill that funded some of the startup costs.
post #2 of 20
Mark, Thanks for the great info I had heard some of it at Plymouth Plantation abouit 20 years ago. Have you been there?
post #3 of 20
Mmmmmmmmmm! Lobster.

Good info, thanks Mark.
post #4 of 20
Hey Marksharky..Thanks for the lesson. I do love them bugs!!

We caught a good lobster sale ($6.99/lb) at a local supermarket before the holiday. Only problem was they were all big. We got 2-8 pounders, 1- 5 pounder and 6 -2 pounders. These went into a giant pot along with collossal shrimp, corn on the cob, new potatoes and smoked kielbasa. The pot was filled with salted water, beeeeeeer, shrimp and crab boil (both liquid and bagged, celery hearts, and 2 whole vidalias.

Then...a whole bunch of us ate and drank beer and gin & tonics for the rest of the day!

We had 2 lbs of lobster salad for sandwiches the next day!
Life is good
post #5 of 20
Diggerway to go! Where didypu say you live?
post #6 of 20
[quote]Originally posted by Marksharky:
They had it put into their contracts that they would not be forced to eat lobster more than three times a week.

I wish someone would force me eat the big bugs three times a week
post #7 of 20

Tell me about it. I'd eat it every day. Yum, lobster with drawn butter..I don't think I'd ever get sick of it.
post #8 of 20
nice info Mark! some interesting things in there. It pays to know a few lobstermen Man do I love lobster!!
post #9 of 20
anyone ever have soft shell lobsters, there the best. alittle olive oil with tiny bit of butter to go with it. GARLIC OF COURSE PLENTY OF IT. wow now im realy hungry
post #10 of 20
I made the mistake of ordering lobster down in Florida years ago.......big mistake. I didn't notice that it didn't say Maine or New England lobster on the menu. You get the local kind (rock lobster I think?) Both claws are skinny little things and it tasted like crap.

By the way, I said "I'll have the lobstah" and the waitress says "You guys are from Boston, right?" Hey, I don't have a funny accent, the rest of the country does.
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
I would have to agree with you Cal, the rocks just don't come close to their north atlantic brothers, although I have only had rocks frozen... So how many of you guys like the claw and knuckle meat over the tail?
post #12 of 20
Tail meat all the way!
post #13 of 20
I used to dive for them at Race Point. I can recall getting close to 60 of them in two dives! Largest I ever got was 13 pounds.

Had to give it up (diving)due to a spinal injury. I refused to buy it after getting so many for free and went a good 7 years without a taste.

Now, when I attempt a bite, I get VERY sick. Go figure......
post #14 of 20
I am always down for some nice tail
post #15 of 20
I was reading some pretty interesting things about lobsters myself not too long ago. Here are two items that stuck in my mind...

In colonial times it was not uncommon to find specimens that were up to six feet in length! OMG! LOBZILLA!

One savvy Newport, RI, millionaire had all the "leavings" from his many famous dinner parties, at which he served the ever popular "bugs", thrown from his back yard cliffs into the sea. He was also very well known for the fabulously grand striped bass he landed every season from, you guessed it, his own back yard! Rumor has it he never served lobster salad the next day!
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