The History of the Lobster: How Lobster Went From “Cockroach of the Sea” to Decadent Dinner - Pine Tree Seafood

The History of the Lobster: How Lobster Went From “Cockroach of the Sea” to Decadent Dinner

The History of the Lobster: How Lobster Went From “Cockroach of the Sea” to Decadent Dinner

The History of the Lobster: How Lobster Went From “Cockroach of the Sea” to Decadent Dinner

Did you know there was a time that the lobster was called “poor man’s chicken” and “cockroach of the sea?” The decadent lobster we know and love today was once so overpopulated that it was even used as fertilizer. 

If you’re a history buff or would like to expand your knowledge of lobster history, keep reading. In this post, you’ll learn some impressive facts to share at lobster dinner parties for years to come.

LOBSTER IN THE EARLY DAYS

More than likely, due to the overabundant population, lobsters were used first to feed prisoners and servants. Meanwhile, as we mentioned, lobsters were also used as fertilizer and fish bait by Native Americans.

By 1700, it wasn’t uncommon to see piles of lobsters (sometimes two feet high!) wash ashore on the beaches in Massachusetts. 

FROM RAGS TO RICHES: HOW THE LOBSTER GAINED ITS FAME

Today, we know that lobsters are best cooked alive, due to the enzymes released when they die, causing them to spoil quickly. However, this vital information was not yet known between 1600 – 1700. More than likely, this is why lobsters were fed to prisoners and servants or given to the poor.

Once railroad transportation began to make travel easier, more and more people began to experience the taste for lobster. Thanks to the cheap price tag and the copious quantities, lobster was served on passenger trains. Passengers were intrigued by the dish and word began to spread about the rediscovered cuisine.

Lots of Maine Lobsters in a tank at Pine Tree Seafood.

LOBSTER’S GROWING POPULARITY

The rave for lobster meat began to travel as quickly as the railroad system. People from the Midwest began desiring the wonderful tasting crustacean. Soon after, lobster pounds were created to help preserve lobsters for extended periods of time.

Before long, demand and prices for lobster both increased, as the crustacean was ultimately rebranded by the American population from a food for the poor to a far more decadent dish.

It wasn’t until the 1880s that chefs began to try different cooking methods and found it was far better to cook lobsters alive. Then, by the mid-1800s, canned lobster meat became the most popular canned product on the market. Later, during World War II, canned lobster was used to feed soldiers. 

Check out some of our tasty Maine Lobster treats!

MODERN DAY LOBSTER

In the early to mid-1900s, chefs in Boston and New York began experimenting with new recipes and lobster meat became a sought-after dish by the wealthy. 

At present, we know lobster by its delicate, sweet meat. With a heftier price tag, many people tend to save lobster for special occasions.


A far cry from “poor man’s chicken,” we know and love the Maine lobster today. Try using some of these lobster history facts to wow your lobster dinner guests the next time you’re hosting. 
Craving a taste of decadent Maine lobster? (We don’t blame you.) Order today or come into our Scarborough, Maine location to purchase fresh caught Maine lobster today!

SCARBOROUGH’S LOCAL, FRESH SEAFOOD AND PRODUCE MARKET SERVING SOUTHERN MAINE AND AVAILABLE FOR ONLINE ORDERING