May 2012

Clam Shack Of The Week: Woodman’s

Narragansett lager beer is now on tap at the very place where it all began. Woodman’s of Essex is the birthplace of the tasty salty treat New Englanders love known as fried clams. Clam Innovator Extraordinaire
Chubby was an entrepreneur and restaurant owner who legend has it invented the Ipswich fried clam. He opened Woodman’s of Essex, first as a clam shack, with his wife Bessie on Main Street in Essex, Massachusetts and sold freshly dug steamer clams as well as ice cream and homemade potato chips.
Legend has it that Woodman invented fried clams on July 3, 1916. According to the company website this happened during a visit from a friend and fisherman, Mr. Tarr of neighboring Gloucester. Tarr thought the clams would taste good fried and Chubby took his suggestion to put some clams into the oil used for deep-frying the potato chips. Some modifications were made, such as dipping the clams in evaporated milk and corn flour, and the fried clam was born.  Prior to Chubby’s invention, New Englanders had solely eaten their clams on the half shell or in chowders.
Chubby Woodman’s clam related innovations continued with the idea of mobilizing the New England clam bake. He used a truck loaded with food, boilers, and wood, and the clambake was done at the customer’s preferred location. Woodman’s restaurant now sells “clambakes to go,” consisting of all the necessary ingredients such as lobster, clams, potatoes, and corn.
Now one is only left to wonder whether Chubby got his nickname before or after he invented the fried clam, as there is no such thing as a “fat free” fried clam.