When Lobster was Spam
It’s no surprise that lobster didn’t use to have much of a reputation. It is, literally, a sea insect. The lobster belongs to the same animal group as both the spider and the common bug, which should be your first clue. They were initially thought of as giant hassles that got in the way when fishermen were fishing for, you know, fish. You know in Forrest Gump when they first pulled up their nets and a bunch of junk fell out? The lobsters were the equivalent of that toilet seat.
The lobsters they presumably found crawling around the bottom of the fish bucket were originally what fishermen gave to their indentured servants to eat. People were so averse to eating it that they ground it up and used it as fertilizer, instead. Being seen as someone who had to eat lobster was something you generally didn’t tell anyone until at least the third date.
British POWs during the Revolutionary War supposedly revolted over being fed too much lobster, after having apparently developed culinary Stockholm Syndrome from British food. Some states actually had laws against feeding lobster to inmates more then a few times a week, on the grounds of cruel and unusual punishment, as it was seen as the equivalent of eating rats.
Then How Did it Get So Fancy?
Somebody went and invented the railroad. Soon, rich people from the middle of the country–who were painfully unaware of what was cool–were tricked into buying the sea insects. But after tasting them, they realized that they must have discovered the long lost gatekeeper for butter.
Ironically, lobster is now a commonly requested food for prisoners receiving a last meal before execution, where as back in the day who knows how many last meal requests were something to the effect of, “Anything but more freakin’ lobster, ya cruel bastards!”
Read more on Cracked.com about other foods that were once not in the popularity polls,