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Pilgrims Had Lobster on First Thanksgiving


Add Maine Lobster to your Thanksgiving feast.

While the New England Lobster feast is a year round tradition older than America itself, New England seafood was a part of the first Thanksgiving. According to historical lore, the pilgrims first learned about the lobster from Native Americans.

Pilgrims Had Lobster at First Thanksgiving

In a letter home to England in 1621, the Pilgrim Edward Winslow wrote of how they fished, hunted and brought in the harvest to set out a feast for the entire pilgrim company and guests, including the Indian King Massasoit and 90 Indians. Winslow wrote that the feast lasted for five days. The Winslow letter was published in England in 1622 causing great excitement and helping to start the tradion of a Thanksgiving feast.

So while turkey has center stage today, the pilgrims first feast gave the lobster clambake a starring role with the turkey. For many New Englanders, the lobster is an alternative part of Thanksgiving.  Create your own Thanksgiving clambake this holiday season.

The story is told about how seven Nationally known Boston Chefs eschewed the turkey one year and took the pilgrim lobster tradition to their Thanksgiving Holiday table. An article in Food and Wine Magazine published more than a decade ago tells the story of how the chef’s and their families got together at Lydia Shire’s (Biba, Towne Stove) farmhouse home in Weston, Massachusetts and created a “potluck extravaganza” to revolutionize Thanksgiving dinner.

Chef Todd English (Olives, Figs) brought the lobster and served it in its shell with a warm, creamy nutmeg vinaigrette and a chestnut puree. Every chef contributed, including Jody Adams (Rialto), Gordon Hamersley (Hammersley Bistro), Susan Regis (Biba), Chris Schlesinger (East Coast Grill), and Jasper White (Jaspers, Summer Shack). The menu included the lobster, cod, oysters, pumpkin soup, turkey and more.

First Thanksgiving Plymouth Massachusetts

First Thanksgiving


While this menu would be overwhelming for most home kitchens, the tradition of holiday feasts with all the wonderful seafood from the cold, clean New England waters can be part of any family celebration this year. Thanksgiving Dinner can be extra special by serving fresh lobster and shellfish. The best part is you no longer have to go to Plimouth Plantation, Cape Cod or Maine to enjoy Maine lobster. Thanks to an online retail lobster delivery service,  live Maine lobster can be shipped overnight to any home in the United States.

Let’s eat lobster!

© Wayne Howe 2018




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  • Reply
    November 17, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    Why did the native indians, not eat horseshoe crabs?

    • Reply
      Blinkie McJitters
      November 22, 2018 at 4:15 am

      Because horseshoe crabs provide very little meat and quite frankly don’t taste very good. You can eat their toe but it basically tastes like rubber bands.

  • Reply
    Skinny-dipping Steve
    December 2, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    I’d rather have Lobster for Thanksgiving instead of Turkey. The only time I eat Turkey is on Christmas Day.

  • Reply
    Joseph Drummond
    November 25, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    There is a part to the, “Lobster Tail” that is being over looked. back in 1621 lobster was not a high commodity. As a mater of fact lobster was considered to be of such common place it was often reserved for prisoners and slaves. That was why the Game Hen and Turkey was introduced as an alliterative center piece. Because most of the settlers felt they were to good to feasting on lobster and shellfish. So over time the Indians contributions to Thanksgiving was forgotten and the celebration was reduced from 6 days down to only 1 day.
    I think its funny that the settlers thought they were too good for lobster. I find it even funnier that people toady are just now finding out about this. Now the only thing I am interested in is seeing what people do with this new information. Will they correct the tradition and show the past the respect it deserves or will they do what they always do…. nothing?

  • Reply
    Wayne Howe
    December 2, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    Yes, lobster were so plentiful at one time I’m told that around 1910 they would come out of the water at night to feed on small crabs and sea urchins on the beach. You had to be careful not to step on them if you were walking the beach at night. But I still feel lucky people can get them shipped to them wherever they live.

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