🦞 Food wars: Favorite lobster rolls in Boston

We’re serving up the history of this iconic New England dish, breaking down the differences between styles, and asking you to weigh in.

A hot and buttery lobster roll with a can of Sam Adams.

You can’t beat a hot and buttery lobster roll from James Hook and Company.

Photo by @nycwithcayla

Is there anything more quintessential for New England eats than a lobster roll? Everyone has an opinion and wants to share it by the pound when it comes to this iconic summer sandwich.

This succulent seafood catch is a pretty big deal for our region. In 2022, the industry caught ~98 million pounds of lobster, which is worth an estimated $389 million.

If you’re curious about the history of this native New England dish, let’s dive a little deeper.

There’s no denying their deep roots to the New England states; however, lobster rolls can also be traced back to the Canadian Maritimes region, comprised of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. The roll was historically enjoyed by the people who caught the crustaceans, aka the lobstermen, when they would eat the unsold catch.

Today, lobster rolls can be spotted on menus everywhere, from food trucks to award-winning establishments.

But who did it first? Rumor has it, the first lobster roll dates back to the 1920s at a restaurant called Perry’s in Milford, Connecticut where the owner whipped up a quick sandwich for a traveling salesman. This grilled sandwich picked up in popularity across Connecticut and resulted in lobster shacks popping up along East Coast towns in the 1950s. Others might be more familiar with the Reds Eats food stand in Maine, which helped put the sandwich on the map in the 1970s.

Maybe that’s why there are two popular styles of lobster rolls. Connecticut-style features warm lobster served with melted butter on a toasted bun, while Maine-style will serve up chunks of lobster tossed with a dressing made of mayonnaise and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Now it’s your turn — and don’t be shellfish. Tell us your favorite way to order a lobster roll.

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