All About Lobsters

How to + History

Whether you want to know a couple fun facts or you’re cracking open your first shell — we’ve got our claws on the best knowledge around!

Are You Hungry?

Here's how to enjoy eating your Maine Lobster

Whether you are a long-time Maine lobster lover, or you’re preparing to take your first crack at it, here are a few tips for maximum enjoyment.

1. Use the bib if one is offered. (water can squirt at the least expected moment ~ not to mention that you will feel years younger!)

2. Twist off the claws:

3. Crack each claw & knuckle with a lobster or nutcracker.
Remove the meat from each knuckle and each claw.

4.  Separate the tail from the body and break off the tail flippers.
Extract the meat from each flipper. 

5.  Insert a fork and push the tail meat out in one piece. Remove and discard the black vein that runs the entire length of the tail meat:

6.  Separate the shell of the body from the underside by pulling them apart and discard the green substance called the tomalley (unless of course you like the tomalley).

7.  Open the underside of the body by cracking it apart in the middle, with the small walking legs on either side. Extract the meat from the leg joints and the legs themselves by biting down on the leg and squeezing the meat out with your teeth.

8.  Use the wet napkins to clean up.

9. Enjoy your Maine lobster!!!

History of Lobstering

A brief overview of our rich tradition shared by so many.

Long ago lobsters were so plentiful that Native Americans used them to fertilize their fields and to bait their hooks for fishing. In colonial times, lobsters were considered “ poverty food” . They were harvested from tidal pools and served to children, to prisoners, and to indentured servants, who exchanged their passage to America for seven years of service to their sponsors.  In Massachusetts, some of the servants finally rebelled. They had it put into their contracts that they would not be forced to eat lobster more than three times a week.

Until the early 1800s, lobstering was done by gathering them by hand along the shoreline. Lobstering as a trap fishery came into existence in Maine around 1850. Today Maine is the largest lobster-producing state in the nation. Though the number of lobstermen has increased dramatically, the amount of lobsters caught has
remained relatively steady. In 1892, 2600 people in the Maine lobster fishery caught 7,983 metric tons; in 1989, 6300 Maine lobstermen landed 10,600 metric tons of lobster.

Smackmen first appeared in Maine in the 1820s because of increased demand for lobsters from the New York and Boston markets. Smackmen were named after their boats, a well smack. Smacks were small sailing vessels with a tank inside the boat that had holes drilled into it to allow sea water to circulate. The smacks were used to transport live lobsters over long distances.

The first lobster pound appeared on Vinalhaven in 1875 and others quickly followed. Lobster pounds work in the same manner as smack boats. The lobsters are kept in tanks with water passing freely through them. The first lobster pound was in a deep tidal creek, but today they are more common on docks floating in the harbor. Using the pound, dealers can wait for the price of lobster to increase or allow a newly-molted lobster time to harden its shell. By the 1930s, the traveling smackmen were being replaced by local, land-based buyers who served as the link between the harvesters and the public. The buyer purchased lobsters from a harvester who in turn bought fuel, bait and other gear from the buyer. The local buyer then either sold the lobsters to people or turned them over to a regional dealer who sent the lobster out of state.

During World War II lobster was considered a delicacy, and consequently was not rationed. Thus lobster meat filled the increasing demand for protein-rich food. People could afford it because of the boom of the war- time economy. Although there was a decline in lobster purchases immediately after the war, lobster consumption rapidly rebounded. In the years between 1960 and 1969, per capita consumption increased from .585 pounds (live weight) to .999 pounds. At the same time the cost of lobster outpaced inflation, increasing profits for lobstermen and thereby encouraging more people to join the industry. GI s  were also given an added boost with money from the GI Bill that funded some of the startup cost.

Today lobstering has been managed the same way since the early 1930s with harvesters and buyers. Lobstermen today have many regulations and restrictions to deal with making the industry not as financially rewarding. The lobstering industry will always be what Maine is known for, and lobstermen, for most of them will always want to be on the water. Nothing is more rewarding them working all day on the beautiful Atlantic then making the steam home behind the islands with the sun setting on your back. Long live the lobstering industry.


“Do lobsters feel anything when I cook them?”

NO, NO, AND NO! A lobster has a brain the size of a grasshopper’s. The lobster brain is primarily a collection of ganglia or nerve endings. It’s evident from the lobster brain’s lack of complexity that a lobster CANNOT have deep thoughts which answers the other big question, “Do lobsters scream when you cook them?”.  The answer is no.  The sound that people hear when putting a lobster into the pot for the first time, is not the lobster screaming, as lobsters have no vocal cords, but is simply air escaping from the shell, similar to a teapot, but on a much smaller scale.