Taste Of Cape Cod: Who Fried the First Clam?

Who Fried the First Clam?

That is quite a loaded question, and one that should be answered with a side of fries.

I wanted to be able to tell you that the first batter-dipped and deep-fried clam was served up right here on Cape Cod on the Fourth of July by the wife of a famous sea captain… but I can’t.

I can at least offer up the most believable folklore that has the first fried clam coming from a kitchen in Massachusetts in 1916. In fact, when you search “History of Fried Clams,” one name comes up again and again: Lawrence “Chubby” Woodman.

Chubby owned a store in Essex, Massachusetts, and was best known for his homemade potato chips. One afternoon in early July, a local fisherman suggested Chubby try frying up some clams the way he fried up his potatoes. So, after a few test runs, Chubby came up with the recipe to dunk the shucked softshell clams in milk, dredge them in corn meal and fry them in lard. By the end of the following day, on the Fourth of July, he was already sold out of these tasty treats.

As we approach the Fourth of July this year, perhaps you’d like to celebrate the birth of the fried clam right here. There are many restaurants across the Cape that guard their fried clam recipes as closely as their chowder recipes.

What separates one fried clam from another?

We can all agree that the most important ingredient is freshly shucked, whole-belly local clams. So, it must be the batter that sets one fried clam plate apart from the others.

Here are a few popular examples:

Basic Batter – This is usually flour-based with little added flavor to detract from the sweetness of the clams.

Beer Battered Fried Clams – These often have a lighter, crisp and almost flakey crust.

Corn Flour/Corn Meal Fried Clams – These have a heartier, almost fritter-like, coating.


Want to try a few variations for yourself? Just take a trip across the Cape! And when you see a sign that says “Best Fried Clams!” they aren’t lying because Cape Cod has the best fried clams in the world! 

About Cat Wilson

Cat Wilson is "That Girl" on Cape Country 104 – a Cape Cod native and longtime Cape radio personality. She is a passionate supporter of Military and Veteran causes on the Cape and also hosts local music spotlight program, “The Cheap Seats” on Ocean 104.7.

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