Maureen Woodman joined Jordon Rich on two episodes of WBZ’s Connoisseur’s Corner to talk about the invention of the fried clam in 1916, as well as what’s on the menu at Woodman’s, and the many upcoming events this summer.
Jordon Rich: Welcome to Connoisseur’s Corner. I’m Jordan Rich with my daily special. We’re talking about one of the classic restaurants in all of New England, Woodman’s of Essex. With me is Maureen Woodman to tell us the official story of the birth of the fried clam. Nobody does fried clams better.
Maureen Woodman: In 1914, Chubby and Bessie were a young, married couple. They got the property. They had some local stuff. It was like a convenience store. Chubby was a fisherman and a clammer, so he would sell some fish on the corner. Bessie was a baker. She would make donuts and clam fritters and pies.
One day, in 1916, it’s really true, it was on July 3rd, the local clam digger said, “You know, Chubby, why don’t you just throw those clams in with the homemade potato chips and see what happens?” They threw the clam in there. The thing exploded. Bessie came on, the wife, and she said, “Let’s dress the clam.” She dressed the clam with evaporated milk — because there was no refrigeration then, that’s what they used — and cornflour (which, lo and behold, is gluten-free, so they’ve always been gluten-free) and they put it in the pot, and they sold $35 worth at the 4th of July parade in 1916.
Then on their wedding certificate, they wrote under their children’s birthdays, “On July 3rd, 1916, we cooked the first fried clam in Essex, Massachusetts.” That was on their wedding certificate.
Jordon Rich: What a great story. If you want to know more about the fried clams, the full menu, all the exciting activities going on this summer, visit Woodmans.com, W-O-O-D-M-A-N-S dot com. Or check out the Facebook page. Lots of activity up there with Essex celebrating its bicentennial as well. Jordon Rich with Connoisseur’s Corner at WBZ, Boston’s News Radio.
Jordon Rich: Hello, and welcome to Connoisseur’s Corner. I’m Jordon Rich with my daily special. We’re focusing on Woodman’s of Essex, an absolute must when you’re on the north shore. Joining me is Maureen Woodman. Now, the restaurant is gluten-free with so many great offerings on the menu, certainly those fried clams.
Maureen Woodman: We really do have something for everyone. Most of our food is fried, but we also have things like steamed clams, steamed lobster, salmon burgers; We have regular burgers now. But if you really want to have the best lobster roll, the best fried lobster which not a lot of restaurants have, of course, the fried clams, our signature, there’s nothing like these clams. They’re hand picked for us, they’re cooked to order. The scallops, the fried shrimp… amazing! Crab meat rolls, tuna rolls … I mean, you name it with fish. The fish plate itself, the fish sandwich with the coleslaw, unbelievable.
Jordon Rich: And to celebrate the Essex bi-centennial, Woodman’s is having all kinds of activities this summer.
Maureen Woodman: So, we’re going to have trivia and karaoke. We have a local brewery with a beer garden that’s not beer for sale in Massachusets. Music coming in from Peking and the Mystics. Joe Weinberg, he’s doing some entertainment in the top deck. We have half price oysters on Mondays and Tuesdays. We’re also doing some Chef Dinner series at the Smolak farms in North Andover this year, with our corporate chef. So we’re pretty excited. We’ve got a lot going on.
Jordon Rich: Thanks, Maureen. There’s also the catering, the BBQs, the clambakes and so much more. Visit Woodmans.com or visit their Facebook page for a whole slate of activities. Connoisseur’s Corner, WBZ. Boston’s News radio.