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Why Do We Eat Lobster?

Well, because it’s delicious.

But it’s a bit more interesting than that. What we think of as lobster – there are other related species – is a distinctly American luxury native to the frigid waters of Maine and surrounding East Coast states. Drenched in butter, it’s a decadent food that tends to be priced accordingly. Nothing compares to its rich, lightly briny meat wrapped in a roll in the warm months of summer.

It wasn’t always this way, though. Perception’s a funny thing, and back when America was a younger country and Homarus americanus was a more common critter, these crustaceans would just wash ashore in pesky piles along the northern Atlantic coast. They carried the negative connotation of being the inexpensive food of the masses – hard as it might be to believe, the colonialists largely fed them to servants, prisoners, and others of low social standing.

The Victorians were the first to get their act together in discovering that this was far from your average protein, inspired in part by Maine becoming an increasingly popular destination for summer tourism. Lobster trapping went up and populations went down as the upper classes in places like New York and Massachusetts grew to associate eating lobster with summering in Cape Cod. It soon earned its modern status as lavish indulgence.

So today, you can smugly look back at the wealthy folks of the past, wipe a drip of melted butter from your chin, and know you’re enjoying something delicious that they likely never bothered to try.

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