New Yorkers ate 100,000,000 Last Year
That was the headline
from The New York Times on May 5, 1907. The figures are based on the
that out of the 1,5OO,OOO bushels of oysters
brought to the New York market 2/3's were shipped out of town.
consumption in New York City, Ingersoll wrote: "Oysters pickled, stewed,
baked, roasted, fried, and scalloped; oysters made into soups, patties,
and puddings; oysters with condiments and without condiments; oysters
for breakfast, dinner, supper; oysters without stint or limit, fresh as
the pure air, and almost as abundant, are daily offered to the palates
of the Manhattanese, and appreciated with all the gratitude which such a
bounty of nature ought to inspire."
Oysters were also commonly served separately
in stews with cream, fried in heavy batter, and baked in rich sauces in
many types of dishes, and with fish, lobsters, crabs, clams, and
crayfish. Eating establishments along the Gulf of Mexico have long
served a sandwich with 6 or 12 oysters termed a "po boy".
By the early 1900's, New Yorkers were still
consuming 500,000 bushels of oysters/season, or an average of two meals
of oysters per person per week in the greater city. An estimated annual
per capita consumption was 660 oysters in New York City, 60 oysters in
London, and 26 oysters in Paris. In the early 1900's, a bowl of oyster
stew cost $0.30 . In that period, a typical family of 5 or 6 had an
income of $12-15/week . In 1919, an oyster stew cost $0.35, and fried
oysters were $0.40/half dozen and $0.75/dozen in Washington, D.C.
In the 1870's, the 1 million people of
Philadelphia and its suburbs were consuming an average of 6
oysters/week, or 12/week during the oyster marketing season. Some 2,419
Philadelphia establishments (hotels, oyster houses, restaurants, and
beer saloons) served oysters, besides 158 peddlers and curb-stone
stands. Even as late as the 1920's, most every small eating place in
Philadelphia displayed a sign "Oysters" in its window.
The oyster reefs in New York were being depleted,
consumption was growing by 10% annually and their oyster fleet moved
south into the Chesapeake Bay.
See the oysters
history for details on the amount of oysters harvest from the Bay.