Northshore Magazine

Northshore June/July 2023

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 107 of 139

106 Woodman's of Essex On an unusually hot day in April, I dragged my family from Boxford to Essex. Woodman's of Essex, which opened on July 3, 1916, is a New England icon, made famous for its accidental invention of the fried clam. According to legend—and to the business itself—Lawrence "Chubby" Woodman invented fried clams in jest, frying up fat- bellied local bivalves at the suggestion of a friend. His roadside stand, co-owned with his wife, Bessie, had been open two years, and the hand-dug clams suddenly propelled him into local business stardom. Chubby had already been a master fryer, known for his hand-fried potato chips. In some ways, his lard-fried clams were a natural extension. Today, the clams are no longer fried in lard, but they are responsible for New England's obsession (Howard Johnson popularized fried Ipswich whole- bellied clams and clam strips, popularizing the trend, bringing them to his chain of restaurants in the 1960s—and he learned it all from Woodman's). My husband had never been to Woodman's, which, in the thick of an unpredictable spring, was as creaky and busy and delicious as it was in my memory. We ordered the fried plate, crisp-yet-tender fat-bellies, offering up just a hint of the sea. They were on the smaller side, though still startlingly sweet. Were these the best around, my husband wanted to know? The only way to answer that question, of course, was to hit the road. Woodman's of Essex is best known for their fried clams.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of Northshore Magazine - Northshore June/July 2023