From food for the poor, servants, and prisoners to a soldier’s staple to everybody’s idea of a delicacy—of “the cockroach of the ocean.” Or, one of the most remarkable rebrandings in product history.
Yeah, was fed to prisoners now people go crazy and pay an arm and a leg for lobster… the cockroach of the sea.
Lobster was also known as the poor man’s meal because the overabundance of these guys made it easy for people with no money to get their protein. In fact, these crustaceans were fed to prisoners, apprentices and slaves. Lobster actually became one of the most popular canned products on the market.
Dirt-cheap because they were so copious, lobsters were routinely fed to prisoners, apprentices, slaves and children during the colonial era and beyond.
Because lobster was considered a delicacy by the time World War II began, it was not rationed.
Lobster began to shed some of its negative reputation and gain a following among discriminating diners, particularly in Boston and New York City, during the 1880s. Prices immediately began to rise. The crustacean only become fashionable to eat after the mid-18th century. Before then there were so many in the shallow seas that they could be hooked, collected with wooden tongs or netted.
Lobster was so abundant in the first few centuries of modern America’s existence that it was considered trash food. It was only when railways were built that Americans inland started to get a taste for it. As a consequence, demand went up, supplies went down and prices rose – until the Depression, when no could afford it. By the time of the Second World War, it was back in cans and being shipped to soldiers on the front line like spam. In the 1950s demand and prices soared once more and lobster has been seen as a delicacy ever since.