Hayrides, pumpkins, haunted houses, festivals, clambakes—whoa! Wait a minute. Clambakes in Ohio? Isn’t that an East Coast thing?
Until just a few years ago, I thought that same thing. I had no idea what deliciousness I was missing out on.
Clambakes are believed to be a tradition passed on to the pilgrims from the Native Americans and might explain why they are so popular in the New England area. Others think it was European immigrants and their love of seafood that made them sought after.
In Ohio, clambakes are known to date back to the mid-1800s when the trains carrying the seafood would stop in Cleveland. The Rockefellers and other wealthy elite often threw grand parties where the seafood delicacies were the starring dish.
But the love affair did not stop there.
Clambakes became popular for political fundraising, society events, unions, lodges, and business gatherings. By the 1950s, they were a staple of the fall season.
Unlike New England clam bakes, which require a more arduous means of cooking over a pit layered with seaweed, clambakes in Ohio often consist of an ear of corn, clams, potatoes, and half a chicken along with seasonings and cooked together in a steamer pot. Although clams are not limited to autumn, adding seasonal favorites like corn and sweet potatoes and cooking over a roaring fire makes it more enjoyable in the fall. But plan ahead. The clambakes are incredibly popular and only here for a limited time. It has been said that the demand for clams to the Ohio area rivals and may even surpass Boston at times.
Winter will be here before you know it. Plan now so you don’t miss out on the succulent taste of clams and all the fixings dripping with butter and that decadent broth—mmm—oh—hey, excuse me, I have to find me a clambake.