A New Commodity: Wider Distribution
Even clams dug outside of New England were processed here at family owned and run companies such as Savage’s of Rowley, Massachusetts.
"We used to get truckloads of sea clams in at Savage’s, my relatives. They came in from New Jersey on a truck. And they were in these big metal cages that were probably 6' by 6' by 6', and about 8' high; had a big door on the front. But those cages would come in on the trucks, and they’d back up to the platform, and we’d take one cage at a time. And it was literally life or death to open that door! Because those things would just come falling out. No one came up with a better way of doing it." - John Grundstrom
In the late 1920s, Howard Johnson opened a restaurant in Quincy, Massachusetts, and began serving signature fried clam strips which he purchased from these local processors. By the 1950s, Howard Johnson’s was a national franchise and its famous clams were served in thirty-two states.
“And then, my uncle fell in with Howard Johnson’s, and started the tender sweet fried clams. He shucked tons of sea clams from New Jersey and Maryland. And Rhode Island. And in a sea clam there’s what’s called a spade, which is really the foot. It’s just about as big as your hand in the big sea clams. And what they’d do: they’d shuck out the spade. The inside would go for bait, the rim. And then the spade would go through a French bean stripper. So when the strip went through, it would come out cut up into these strips and all tenderized. And this was something that I know my uncle was involved in, developing the first one for Howard Johnson’s tender sweet fried clams.” - Jack Grundstrom