Fried Clams

Breaded in cornmeal and fried in oil that custom says should be at least half lard, a fried clam is a crusty, pale gold nugget big enough to be one greedy mouthful. Known as a whole belly clam, it yields the distinctive marine smack of a freshly-opened mollusk. Whole bellies vary in size, making each piece a unique eating experience. Clam strips are different from whole bellies: very chewy morsels breaded and fried into little ribbons that detractors compare to rubber bands, but fans appreciate because they aren’t gooey and are more subtly ocean flavored. According to culinary folklore, the fried clam was invented on July 3, 1916, at the still-thriving Woodman’s of Essex (Massachusetts). The Great Moment is supposed to have occurred when Chubby Woodman, proprietor of what then was a small raw bar, tossed a few clams into the oil he was using to cook up the newly invented snack food, Saratoga chips (potato chips). On the other hand, historians have found mention of fried clams well before Woodman’s revelation, including an article in the New York Times on May 12, 1912, warning that “fried clams are generally unwholesome for persons of weak digestion…”

Restaurants With This Dish

Westfair Fish & Chips


Lobster Shack


Chowder Barge


Clam Castle - Fried Clams
Clam Castle


Clam Box - Fried Clam Platter
Clam Box


Exterior view of Ken's Place
Ken’s Place



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